Debenhams chairman resigns after being voted off the board

Debenhams chairman resigns after being voted off the board

The billionaire founder of Sports Direct, the largest shareholder in Debenhams, is said to have told Mr Duddy of his frustration with how the department store had been run recently under the leadership of Sir Ian Cheshire, the former chairman, and Sergio Bucher, chief executive.

The board said it had "full confidence" in plans put in place by Mr Bucher and the management to reshape the business. He was appointed chairman in April 2016.

The discounter saw a 33% uplift in sales of its premium Deluxe range over the six weeks to December 30, with bestsellers including brioche burger buns and luxury mince pies.

The turmoil comes at a tense time for Britain's shopping districts, as uncertainty surrounding Brexit and a shift to online purchases hammer brick-and-mortar retailers like Debenhams, which had a particularly tough Christmas season. Previous year it issued three profit warnings.

Ashley, who owns almost 30% of Debenhams shares through Sports Direct, teamed up with the billionaire owner of Milestone Resources, Micky Jagtiani, who has a 7% stake, to vote the two directors off the board at an annual general meeting on Thursday night.

However it added: "Of the votes cast".

"As a result, the board and Sergio have agreed that he should continue as CEO of Debenhams", it added.

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Following the Debenhams annual meeting on Thursday, Mr Cheshire stepped down as chairman immediately, but Mr Bucher will stay on as chief executive, although not as a director.

As a result, Cheshire will step down from his role, deciding it "is no longer possible for him to remain chair".

The announcement came after weeks of pressure from Newcastle Utd owner Ashley for Debenhams to work closer with his House of Fraser empire. Terry Duddy, Debenhams' senior independent director, was named interim chairman.

Duddy said "I recognise that individual shareholders have wished to register their dissatisfaction". I am looking forward to working with Sergio. "My first task is to meet with shareholders so that I understand any concerns that they may have".

Debenhams major shareholders include Sports Direct International PLC, with almost a 30% stake, Brandes Investment Partners Inc, with over 12% stake, Schroders PLC, with a 9.8% stake, and Milestone Resources Group Ltd, which holds a 7.3% stake. Debenhams rejected his offer, but said all options remain open.

Earlier Thursday, Debenhams announced it is in talks with lenders over its financing amid weak store footfall over the Christmas period.

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