Saturday 19 October 2019

Debenhams finance chief jumps ship for Ted Baker

Rachel Osborne, who recently gave High Court evidence as part of Debenhams’ CVA challenge, was described by the judge as ‘transparently honest’.

File photo dated 06/01/16 of a shop sign for Ted Baker. The company has appointed a new CFO – Rachel Osborne.
File photo dated 06/01/16 of a shop sign for Ted Baker. The company has appointed a new CFO – Rachel Osborne.

By Simon Neville, PA City Editor

The finance chief of Debenhams has quit after just one year with the struggling department store to join fashion brand Ted Baker.

Rachel Osborne joins Ted Baker as new chief financial officer in the “next few months”, replacing Charles Anderson, who took up the same role at Mulberry in August after 17 years with the retailer.

Prior to joining Debenhams, Ms Osborne worked as finance chief at Domino’s Pizza but left there after less than two years, the third to fill that role in as many years.

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Rachel Osborne has had a varied career, also working for Domino’s Pizza, Vodafone and John Lewis. (Domino’s / PA)

She said: “Ted Baker is an outstanding global brand and I am hugely looking forward to the opportunity to contribute to the next phase of its development.”

Her appointment comes at a difficult time for the business, which was recently dumped out of the FTSE 250 in a year that saw founder and chief executive Ray Kelvin forced out after staff raised allegations of inappropriate behaviour over his penchant for hugging them.

Executive chairman, David Bernstein, said: “As our strategy to grow the business continues, Rachel’s experience of working in the challenging retail environment we currently face will be highly valuable.

“We look forward to leveraging her significant brand and retail experience and expertise moving forward.”

Ms Osborne most recently appeared in public giving evidence at the High Court on behalf of Debenhams in a court case brought by landlords, funded by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct, challenging the legality of the department store’s company voluntary arrangement to cut rents and stave off collapse.

The judge, Mr Justice Norris, praised her as a “transparently honest and careful witness who gave what seemed to me a balanced account of the relevant considerations” including the decision to block attempts by Mr Ashley to install himself as Debenhams’ chief executive in return for providing funding.

He added that, on the basis of her evidence, it was clear Sports Direct’s argument that Debenhams preferred to deal with its creditors over Mr Ashley following its administration in April “did not have legs”.

Ms Osborne, a qualified chartered accountant, has previously worked in finance roles at Vodafone and John Lewis.

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