Debenhams chairman ousted by Mike Ashley. Retailer’s chairman Ian Cheshire steps down and CEO Sergio Bucher leaves board. The chairman and chief executive of Debenhams (DEB) have been ousted from the retailer’s boardroom after two major shareholders – including Mike Ashley’s Sports Direct – voted against them. The chairman, Ian Cheshire, stepped down immediately while the chief executive, Sergio Bucher, will stay on but not as a director. Sports Direct International (SPD), which owns nearly 30% of Debenhams shares, and Milestone Resources, controlled by the Dubai-based retail billionaire Micky Jagtiani, who owns a 7% stake, both voted against Cheshire and Bucher. A total of 56% of shares voted were against both directors after a number of shareholders either withheld or failed to use their votes. Cheshire joined Debenhams three years ago and he appointed the former Amazon executive Bucher. He told the board after the group’s shareholders’ meeting that he had concluded “it is no longer possible” to remain on the board without the backing of key shareholders. Bucher is to stay on as the board said it had “full confidence in Sergio and in the management’s plan to reshape the business”. “The board believes that it is in the best interests of Debenhams plc that the executive team remains fully focused on delivery of the plan. In the meantime, the board remains open to constructive suggestions from shareholders that are in the interests of the business as a whole.”
Halfords blames mild weather and weak demand for profit slip. Sales by retailer of car accessories and bikes fall as shares slump to six-year low. More than £120m was wiped off the value of the Halfords Group (HFD) bikes and car maintenance chain on Thursday after the retailer issued its second profits warning in a year, blaming mild weather and lower consumer confidence for a fall in sales. The company’s shares slumped by more than 20%, to a six-year low of 217p, as the retailer said that its profits would be only around £60m this year, rather than the £70m City retail analysts had expected. Halfords added it was unlikely to be able to increase profits next year as it predicted consumer confidence would remain weak.
Brighton Pier owner issues profit warning. Group says profits will be fifth lower than expected, in fresh blow to chair Luke Johnson. Brighton Pier Group (The) (PIER), the leisure company that owns the 119-year-old Grade II*-listed pier alongside a string of bars and mini golf courses across the country, has warned that its profits will be a fifth lower than expected. The profit warning, which caused the shares to fall by 42% before recovering to 24% down, is the latest blow for the serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson, whose investment fund bought the pier for £16m in 2016 and who chairs the company. Johnson owns 27% of Brighton Pier Group, according to its website. The shares have lost more than half their value since September. Johnson was last year forced to inject millions of pounds into his cake business Patisserie Valerie to avoid its collapse into administration after an accounting scandal. Anne Ackord, Brighton Pier Group’s chief executive, blamed bad August bank holiday weather and engineering work on the London-Brighton train line for causing a significant dip in visitors to the famous pier. “Whilst I am disappointed at the rail network disruptions currently affecting the pier, once they are complete, this will be of great benefit to future visitors travelling to the city and consequently to our Brighton businesses,” she said.
Ted Baker beats festive sales slump despite ‘forced hugs’ claims. Fashion brand’s sales rise 12.2% over festive period despite controversy surrounding its founder. Ted Baker (TED) has shrugged off concerns about a culture of “forced hugs” under its founder, Ray Kelvin, delivering strong sales growth over Christmas despite the revelations. Retail sales increased 12.2% in the five weeks to 5 January, after a 5% increase in retail space, as the fashion brand clocked up strong growth online. Lindsay Page, acting chief executive, said men’s and women’s coats, jackets and knitwear had all sold well as the weather became chillier after a tricky autumn season marked by unseasonably warm weather. “The Ted Baker brand has delivered a good performance across both our stores and e-commerce business, despite the continuing challenging external trading conditions across our markets,” he said. “This result again reflects the strength of the brand and the quality of our collections.” Page added that the company had also invested heavily in logistics and infrastructure, which played an important role as shoppers demanded more home deliveries.