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Debenhams chairman faces coup

Debenhams chairman Nigel Northridge could be replaced by the former boss of Kingfisher, Sir Ian Cheshire, as part of a wider boardroom shake-up, according to reports.

The department store chain has been under pressure from shareholders over its poor performance in recent years, although its latest results were more positive. Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp has already announced his intention to leave in 2016.

The retailer has held talks with Cheshire about taking up a post, a source told The Financial Times. Cheshire, who stepped down from home improvement retailer Kingfisher a year ago, has not commented. It is not known if the position would be executive or non-executive.

In September, stockbroker Cenkos reportedly attempted to generate support for a boardroom coup at Debenhams. Cenkos was working on behalf of Debenhams’ three biggest backers: Mukesh ‘Micky’ Jagtiani, who owns the Landmark retail empire in India and the Middle East, Schroders and Old Mutual.

The following month, Sharp revealed his intention to step down, but insisted he had always planned to leave after five years at the helm.

It is not clear whether the same shareholders are involved in the latest move to bring in a new chairman.

Debenhams issued two profit warnings in 2013, but its pre-tax profits rose 7.3% for the year to August 29 2015.

In December, Debenhams revised down its management bonus structure to reflect “ongoing challenges in the UK retail sector”.

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