Business World

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Finance chief quits Debenhams after profit alert

A model wearing a design by Jonathan Saunders for Debenhams
A model wearing a design by Jonathan Saunders for Debenhams
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

The chief financial officer of department store chain Debenhams has resigned just days after the firm said it was left with a glut of stock following Christmas.

Simon Herrick has decided to leave his post, the retailer confirmed. He will leave with a £500k pay-off if he does not take another job for one year.

Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp thanked him for his contributions to the group over the past two years.

On Tuesday, Debenhams, which is Britain's second-biggest department store operator after Marks & Spencer, said its profit in the first half of its financial year would fall to £85m (€102m) from £115m a year earlier because it would have to step up discounting to clear winter stock.

It had been reported that Mr Herrick had written to Debenhams' suppliers last month asking for a discount on all orders, with the request being dubbed a 'Santa tax'. Some investors have been critical of Mr Herrick, with their concerns focused on financial guidance given by the firm last year.

Some investors approached Debenhams chairman Nigel Northridge to voice their opinions. Mr Northridge is also the chairman of Paddy Power and a non-executive director at Aer Lingus.

Debenhams had been expecting robust trading in the run-up to Christmas, but the shopping binge failed to arrive.

The share plunged as much as 14pc on Tuesday and were up 1.6pc by yesterday afternoon.

The company said lower shopper numbers, pressure on incomes and unseasonal weather had depressed sales.

Irish Independent

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