CEO bows out at Debenhams

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​Department store chain Debenhams said chief executive Michael Sharp is to bow out in 2016 after nearly five years at the helm.

The group said Mr Sharp will remain in the role throughout the key Christmas trading season, but plans to step down “some time in 2016” after helping find his successor.

Details of his planned departure came as the retailer reported its latest set of figures showing a 7.3​ per cent​ rise in full-year pre-tax profits to £113.5​m.

Mr Sharp, who became chief executive in September 2011, said he had always intended to serve a five-year term at the retailer.

But there have been mounting rumours over his tenure, with Mr Sharp under increasing pressure in recent years to turn the firm’s fortunes around.

He said: “I accepted the job of chief executive with the intention of spending five years in the role and although it will be difficult to leave a fabulous company like Debenhams, now is the right time for the board to begin the process of identifying my successor.”

He added: “I hope being transparent about my intentions will stop recent speculation becoming a distraction, allowing me and the Debenhams team to focus on delivering our strategy and the important Christmas trading period.”

The outgoing boss said he was “proud of our achievements since September 2011” and believes Debenhams is “now capable of competing in the ever changing and challenging world of multi-channel retailing”.

Results showed like-for-like sales rose 2.1​ per cent​ over the year to August 29, with currency movements stripped out, or 0.6 ​per cent ​h​igher on a reported basis.

The group said it made an “encouraging start to the new financial year and is in good shape for the crucial Christmas trading period”.