Chief executive, Debenhams
Rob Templeman’s deputy, deal-doer Michael Sharp, has usurped him as the highest entry from Debenhams in the Top 100 this year, but Templeman is still the go-to retailer for a call on the economy. But you’ve got to be pretty sharp to read when this dry-witted man is imparting serious thoughts or sarcasm over one of his trademark cigarettes.
Perhaps his biggest influence this year has been on pricing and margin management, though this has passed largely under the retail radar. Earlier in the year he briefed the buying team to push prices and build in margin by working hard on design detail and negotiating further with suppliers, well aware that Debenhams would need to flex its promotional strategy in the second half of the year when the public sector cuts were due to be announced. If you have been watching closely, you would have seen that prices have moved up and down through the season depending on how fast or not a line is selling.
Improved ranges helped profits rise 7.1% to £196.1m for the year to August 28 but Templeman remains cautious about the outlook.