Debenhams boss to retire as sales rise

 
City A.M. Reporter
DEBENHAMS said yesterday its chief executive of eight years would retire in September as it posted a 4.5 per cent rise in first-half profit and resumed its dividend.

Rob Templeman will be succeeded by Michael Sharp, the current deputy chief executive, the department store chain said.

Templeman, who has been at the helm for eight years, will remain as a consultant for up to one year after his retirement.

Debenhams, which trades from about 170 stores in Britain, Ireland and Denmark and about 60 franchised outlets in 24 countries, said it made an underlying pre-tax profit of £129.2m in the six months to 26 February.

That was slightly above analysts’ consensus forecast of £128m and up from £123.6m in the same period last year.

Debenhams, ranked second after employee-owned department store John Lewis, said first-half sales rose 3.2 per cent, with sales at stores open over a year down 1.5 per cent,

The firm, which ended the period with net debt of £351.6m, returned to the dividend list for the first time in three years with a one pence payout.

Debenhams said it expects trading in its second-half to be difficult as disposable incomes come under pressure from inflation, government cuts and higher taxes.

But Templeman said: “The trading environment has been difficult but Debenhams has now produced six consecutive halves of pre-tax profit growth in what has been a consistently challenging retail climate.”