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Debenhams’ Sharp thinking

Jessica Brown

Michael Sharp, the soon-to-be promoted deputy chief executive of Debenhams, is often described as a shrewd dealmaker.

Michael Sharp, the soon-to-be promoted deputy chief executive of Debenhams, is often described as a shrewd dealmaker.

He isn’t afraid of unpopular price promotions when the market requires it - he is bold in his decisions, a vital characteristic for a big-business boss.

A supplier once told me Sharp would know exactly how much more cash to the penny would come into the tills if he stacked a box of Kit Kats on each counter. It might be a slightly oddball example to give but it illustrates just how on top of every minute detail Sharp is at Debenhams.

And he’s a product man. That makes him a diff erent but extremely safe pair of hands to take over from Rob Templeman who, after eight years, is to step down from the role of chief executive at the department store group in September. There should be no repeat of the recent people merry-go-round saga at New Look here then.
Sharp was sharp enough to get to the heart of the complex and somewhat fraught negotiations to buy the Faith brand name from the administrators last year and he was also instrumental in the purchase of the Principles label in 2009. That Sharp was the driving force behind both of these acquisitions demonstrates his
deep understanding of the power of brand.

He will be supported by the very capable group trading director Suzanne Harlow, herself a brilliant product person and someone who is continually tipped as a future leader of the sector. This powerful duo can only be a positive thing for the future of Debenhams’ fashion.

Meanwhile, don’t expect Templeman to disappear from view. His infl uence is already felt in other businesses (he dishes out plenty of advice to his contemporaries) and he has an eye for a business bargain. This man’s retail story is far from over.

Jessica Brown, Executive editor twitter.com/JessicaBrown78

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