Debenhams’ chief financial officer Simon Herrick has stepped down with immediate effect, just two days after the department store issued a profit warning.
Herrick, who has been at the business for a little over two years, will formally leave the company on February 7. Neil Kennedy, director of finance, will take on interim responsibilities while a replacement is recruited.
Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp said: “On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Simon for his hard work and contribution over the past two years. We wish him well in the future.”
Herrick’s departure comes two days after Debenhams released an interim statement showing like-for-likes had risen a mere 0.1% in the 17 weeks to December 28, with clothing the “weaker” performing category.
Online sales rose 27% for the period, accounting for 15.6% of total sales compared with 12.4% for the same period last year.
The statement said gross margins had declined “due to product category mix and higher markdown”.
The business noted that it had not seen “the anticipated final surge in sales in the last week of the period and as a result we expect the need for additional markdown to clear stock in January and February”.
Gross margins for the first half are now expected to fall by between 80 and 100 basis points, while profit before tax is expected to drop to £85m from £114.7m in 2013.