Bucher ‘plans to stand down’ as Debenhams boss

Debenhams chief executive Sergio Bucher is planning to stand down this week after the struggling High Street chain entered administration last Tuesday, according to reports.

Bucher, who has led Debenhams since October 2016, is said by sources to believe it is time for a “fresh start” following a tumultuous few months for the department store chain.

A source close to Bucher said: “Having stayed on and got the refinancing in place, Sergio thinks now would be the right moment to move on.

“The upcoming restructuring can then be led by someone offering a fresh start,” they added.

The retailer passed into the hands of its lenders last week after a refinancing and pre-pack administration deal was agreed, which the company warned would see shareholder value wiped out.

It came after Debenhams rejected a last-ditch offer of £200 million by Sports Direct chief executive Mike Ashley, whose company is the largest Debenhams shareholder, ending the retail tycoon’s bitter struggle to seize control of the company.

The Sunday Times reported that Debenhams’ consortium owners could pick current interim chairman and retail veteran Terry Duddy to lead the company into the next stage of its restructuring plan, but it is understood that nothing has yet been agreed.

Last week, Sky News reported that Stefaan Vansteenkiste, managing director of consulting firm Alvarez and Marsal, could also be in the running to replace Bucher, should he stand down in the coming weeks.

Bucher was ousted from the Debenhams board alongside chairman Ian Cheshire, following a boardroom coup launched by Mike Ashley in January.

A spokesperson from the group that now owns Debenhams said: “The investor consortium has provided Debenhams with £200 million in fresh funding, which will see it through the restructuring process and be available to fund the company for the foreseeable future.

“Within the consortium, there is extensive turnaround experience, which we will deploy to support the management’s turnaround plan.”

A spokesperson for Debenhams declined to comment.

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