UK department store chain Debenhams has announced that its chairman John Lovering intends to retire from the board on 31 March next year.

A process to appoint Lovering's successor is underway and a further announcement will be made in due course, the company told the London Stock Exchange.

Lovering said: "I am proud of what Debenhams has achieved over the last six years whilst I have served as chairman. We have set direction for a sound future."

Rob Templeman, chief executive of Debenhams, said: "The board would like to thank John for his contribution to the business and wise counsel over the years. He has been a real asset to the business in his role as chairman.

"We have a wealth of talent on our board which has been strengthened with new non-executive appointments in recent months. John will be with us until his retirement in March 2010 and this will give us ample time to appoint his successor."

The company also announced today (22 October) that Nigel Northridge will join the board as a non-executive director on 1 January 2010. Northridge is currently chairman of bookies Paddy Power.

Debenhams this morning posted a 14.1% rise in full-year pre-tax profit to GBP120.8m (US$200.1m).