In 2014, the company suffered a 21 per cent dive in profits to £110.3m. At the time, Sharp blamed Debenhams’ troubles on the warmer than average weather that was affecting the entire high street – which was allegedly the same reason behind Debenhams issuing two profit warning in less than a year in 2013.
However, the group recently announced a seven per cent rise in profits to £113.8m. The company also claimed that five new stores were on track to open ahead of Christmas.
Debenhams added that it had made an “encouraging start to the new financial year and is in good shape for the crucial Christmas trading period”.
It pointed to what it called its “strongest-ever brand launch” – with Nine by actress Sienna Miller’s sister Savannah Miller – in 65 stores for the autumn/winter season.
News of Sharp’s departure came following rumours that shareholders are demanding a boardroom shake-up – as well as on the back of Debenhams improving its profitability.
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He said “I believe Debenhams is now capable of competing in the ever changing and challenging world of multi-channel retailing.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.
“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.”
Sharp claimed he had always intended to serve a five-year term at the retailer.
He said: “I’m two months into my fifth year and this has always been my own plan. We have a strong management team and our strategy is clearly working.”
The outgoing chief executive said the succession plan would involve a “full and transparent” selection process for a replacement to run the group and he would stay on to “settle” his successor into the role.
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