Debenhams chairman set to step down

DEBENHAMS chairman John Lovering is expected to announce he is stepping down from the high street retailer on Thursday when the group unveils its full-year results.<br /><br />Lovering&rsquo;s departure from the chain last year has been speculated on since last year,&nbsp; but the famed deal-maker is believed to be making the jump now as the group&nbsp; is on a&nbsp; firm financial footing since its rights issue and robust results are expected.<br /><br />Earlier this year Lovering, in his other capacity as chairman of Somerfield, pulled off one of the biggest deals in UK retail with the sale of the grocery chain to Co-operative Group.<br /><br />Analysts predict the department store chain will post a 11 per cent rise in annual profits to &pound;122m, up from &pound;110m last year.<br /><br />Debenhams has recently defied the downturn due to strong sales at its Designers at Debenhams ranges which includes John Rocha, Jasper Conran, Janet Reger and Matthew Williamson, joined recently by designer du jour Henry Holland.<br /><br />The retailer said in the summer that it was turning 52,000sq ft of shop floor space from concessions into floor space for its own-brand lines to reflect shopper interest.<br /><br />The group will also unveil tonight its first TV advertising campaign for two years in a bid to lure more customers. The &pound;2m ad, with a voiceover from Withnail &amp; I actor Paul McGann, will feature the new slogan &ldquo;Design in every department&rdquo; &ndash; ditching its previous &ldquo;styling the nation&rsquo; strapline. The group recently moved to ease concerns over its debt pile through a &pound;323m share placing.