Suzanne Harlow, group trading director at Debenhams, is to leave amid the British department store group's restructuring efforts, which include the creation of three new business units.

Harlow, who joined Debenhams in 1994 and has served as group trading director for the last eight years, intends to explore new opportunities elsewhere.

The company unveiled is going through what it calls "a period of rapid transformation" to deliver its new strategy, Debenhams Redesigned.

Revealed in April, the plan is aimed at making Debenhams more digitally-driven and more of a "destination" shop. It will work alongside Debenham's 'Fix the Basics' plan, which is already underway to switch around 2,000 staff to customer-facing roles, replenish stock faster, and de-clutter the store environment, amongst other things.

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In order to support the delivery of this strategy, the retailer is also creating three new business units: Fashion and Home; Beauty and Beauty Services; and Food and Events. As a result, the main board role of the group trading director will no longer exist, with each business unit be led by a member of the executive committee.

Going forward, Debenhams says the executive committee will consist of CEO Sergio Bucher, and CFO Matt Smith, together with the following members: Ross Clemmow (retail director), Richard Cristofoli (marketing director), David Smith (international director), Angela Morrison (technology and supply chain director) and Sally Hyndman (HR director).

A new executive committee member responsible for Fashion and Home is expected to be appointed in due course. In the interim period responsibility for this division will be taken by the CEO.

"I would like to thank Suzanne personally for her support since my arrival at Debenhams in October last year," says Bucher. "She has done an excellent job since she joined Debenhams in 1994 and over the last eight years as roup trading director has driven growth in categories such as beauty, accessories, food and gift. We have strengthened the management team over the last 12 months and now have a structure in place to support our ambition to become a leader in social shopping."

In June, one analyst said Debenhams needs to offer incentives to loyal online customers and ensure the online shopping experience is more enjoyable to prevent losing customers to a third-party provider, as the British department store group warned of tough trading impacting its third-quarter. 

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