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Suzanne Harlow exits Debenhams amid restructuring

Suzanne Harlow is leaving her role as group trading director at Debenhams, as the business restructures to support its new strategy.

The group trading director role will no longer exist – instead, Debenhams is creating three new business units: fashion and home; beauty and beauty services; and food and events.

Each business unit will be led by a member of the executive committee.

A new executive committee member responsible for fashion and home is expected to be appointed in due course. Debenhams CEO Sergio Bucher will oversee this division in the interim.

The executive committee currently consists of Bucher, CFO Matt Smith, retail director Ross Clemmow, marketing director Richard Cristofoli, international director David Smith, technology and supply chain director Angela Morrison, and HR director Sally Hyndman.

Bucher unveiled his new strategy for the business, “Debenhams Redesigned”, in April. It focuses on experiential shopping, digital growth and driving efficiency.

The retailer said Harlow was planning to “explore new opportunities elsewhere”. She will depart on 20 October.

Bucher said: “I would like to thank Suzanne personally for her support since my arrival at Debenhams in October last year. She has done an excellent job since she joined Debenhams in 1994 and over the last eight years as group trading director has driven growth in categories such as beauty, accessories, food and gift.

“We have strengthened the management team over the last 12 months and now have a structure in place to support our ambition to become a leader in social shopping.”

Readers' comments (3)

  • Eric Musgrave

    Good luck to Suzanne in the future. I don't envy Sergio the job he has trying to find a role for Debenhams in the current world, but I can't help feeling that a business aimed so much at women ought to have a few more women on the board. But if Vogue can have a male editor, maybe that is just an old-fashioned opinion. Thoughts, valued Drapers readers?

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  • Not a big fan of Debs since it had all it's value and heart ripped out by private equity but it still does have a place. John Lewis pave the way in terms of giving a quality experience at nearly all levels, even if Debs could replicate this by half then perhaps it may start to make some ground, as has been said many times on these pages they lack the management to claw themselves up there. It really does need a wholesale change of management, fresh blood with new ideas rather than Managers and Directors who can't see the wood from the trees, way too many who have been their far far too long, the good ones leave, the others over stay waiting to be asked to leave, too much in their comfort zone until it's too late. The clock is ticking not just for Management but the whole Debs Brand and not before time.

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  • For me, Debenhams is over and won't be here in 10 year time. It will be one of those 'Do you remember?' stores.

    The group needs a rebrand, position itself higher, with a completely different ethos and downsize. More quality than quantity, which is something you could never say about the current set-up.

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