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Debenhams hires Mothercare finance chief

Debenhams has hired Mothercare chief financial officer Matthew Smith to fill the same role at the department store chain.

Smith joined Mothercare in 2013 from Argos, where he was finance director for eight years. Prior to that he held senior finance roles at KPMG. The babycare chain confirmed Smith’s departure on Friday (July 25). Smith will work his 12-month notice period at Mothercare until his replacement is found.

The hire comes after a six-month search by Debenhams to fill the role. Smith replaces Simon Herrick, who resigned in January. Herrick left the business after hitting suppliers with a one-off fee worth 2.5% of outstanding payments - a so-called “Santa tax”. Neil Kennedy, director of finance, took on interim responsibilities.   

Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp said: “We look forward to Matt joining Debenhams and to the benefits that his extensive experience of international and multichannel retailing will bring to our business.”

The company faced criticism after it announced that profits were down 25% in the 26 weeks to March 1. In June, Sharp unveiled a strategy to boost profits through reduced discounting and plans to open Sports Direct and Costa concessions in stores.

Debenhams has recently reported minor growth, with group like-for-like sales up 0.7% for the 14 weeks to June 7.

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