• Steven Cook, former chief merchant of Canadian luxury retailer Holt Renfrew, will join Debenhams in early January to lead the business unit that oversees the organisation's fashion and home buying, design and merchandising divisions.
  • Debenhams will now structure around three business units: beauty and beauty services, fashion and home, and food and events.
Debenham’s established a turnaround strategy in April

Debenham’s established a turnaround strategy in April

Struggling UK department store retailer Debenhams has restructured its business around three units amid the appointment of a managing director for its fashion and home divisions.

The move, which will see a greater emphasis placed on the retailer's ambitions in the beauty sector, forms part of Debenham's turnaround strategy established in April. It also follows calls for the swift appointment of a fashion division head to prevent losing customers to rivals Next and M&S.

Steven Cook, former chief merchant of Canadian luxury retailer Holt Renfrew, will join Debenhams in early January to lead the business unit that oversees the organisation's buying, design and merchandising divisions for fashion and home.

In its full-year update in October, the retailer revealed a 44.2% fall in pre-tax profit to GBP59m (US$77.86m), and a 0.7% decline in domestic sales to GBP1.89bn. Clothing, the biggest part of its business and currently the most problematic, saw sales fall 0.5%.

Debenhams turnaround strategy takes its toll on FY

Debenhams has since axed its Ben de Lisi for Principles range and is planning to launch a new trend-led line in 2018, though analysts have said this will be a hard sell given that it will sit alongside other "outdated and irrelevant" private label brands.

CEO Sergio Bucher said of Cook's appointment: "Steven's appointment comes following a comprehensive global search to find the right candidate to drive Debenhams' product offer forward. Steven brings great credentials to the role and by organising under three business units, our managing directors will have more visibility and accountability for delivering the customer experience. I look forward to welcoming Steven to the business and working with him to deliver Debenhams Redesigned."

Cook's retail, fashion and manufacturer experience spans a number of brands including Calvin Klein, Badgley Mischka as well as Polo Ralph Lauren, J Crew and Nike.

Debenhams will now commence plans to structure around three business units: beauty and beauty services, fashion and home, and food and events.

Richard Cristofoli, formerly Debenhams' marketing director, becomes managing director of beauty, beauty services and marketing. Debenhams' retail director, Ross Clemmow, will broaden his role as managing director for retail, food and events.

In May, Debenhams appointed Angela Morrison as technology and supply chain director. But the restructuring saw the departure of Suzanne Harlow, group trading director.