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Debenhams names Rachel Osborne as new finance chief

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By Reuters
Debenhams names Rachel Osborne as new finance chief
FILE PHOTO: Shoppers walk past Debenhams on Oxford Street in central London, Britain, April 2, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay   -   Copyright  Hannah Mckay(Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) – Debenhams <DEB.L>, the British department store group that has issued three profit warnings this year, said on Wednesday it had recruited a former chief financial officer of Domino’s Pizza <DOM.L> to be its new finance chief.

Debenhams said Rachel Osborne, who has also worked for department store rival John Lewis [JLPLC.UL] and home improvement retailer Kingfisher <KGF.L>, would join the firm on Sept. 17.

Matt Smith, the current CFO, informed the board of his intention to leave Debenhams in April to take up the same role at rival Selfridges. He will leave the group at the end of August.

Debenhams said Osborne would receive a basic salary of 439,000 pounds. Bonus schemes mean her maximum level of variable remuneration will be 200 percent of basic salary.

The group is in the second year of a turnaround plan under Chief Executive Sergio Bucher focused on closing up to 10 stores, downsizing 30 others, cutting promotions and improving online service.

Progress has, however, been hampered by changing shopping habits, a squeeze on UK consumers’ budgets, a shift in spending away from fashion towards holidays and entertainment, as well as intense online competition.

Debenhams is also cutting capital expenditure and has said it may sell non-core assets, including its Danish chain Magasin du Nord.

Earlier this month rival House of Fraser collapsed into administration and was immediately purchased by Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct <SPD.L>.

Sports Direct is Debenhams’ biggest shareholder with a 29.7 percent holding and analysts have speculated Ashley may try to engineer a combination with House of Fraser.

Shares in Debenhams, down 67 percent over the last year, closed on Tuesday at 13.4 pence, valuing the business at 163 million pounds.

(Reporting by James Davey; Editing by Kate Holton and Mark Potter)