Debenhams is “in the final stages” of appointing a new chief executive after boss Michael Sharp confirmed his resignation today as the department store group posted a rise in half-year profits.
Sharp, who outlined plans in October to leave this year, said he has now handed in his resignation, but still plans to remain at the helm until his successor is appointed.
The group said the appointment process was “well advanced” and recently hired chairman Sir Ian Cheshire added that an announcement is expected in the next few weeks.
The news came alongside half-year results which revealed 5.5 per cent hike in group pre-tax profits to £93.8 million for the six months to 27 February.
But group like-for-like sales growth slowed to 1.1 per cent, down from 1.9 per cent over the Christmas season. Its 165 UK stores saw sales rise 2.9 per cent, offsetting a 3.7 per cent fall at the international arm as it was hit by currency exchange rates.
Sharp said the chain put in a “strong” half-year performance, shrugging off the recent gloom from rivals such as Next and Marks & Spencer.
The interim dividend is being raised by 2.5 per cent to 1.025p per share.
Sharp said: “A strong operational performance resulted in a record Christmas, and further growth in first half profits against a good performance in the prior year.
“Our customers are responding positively to our multi-channel strategy, finding our mix of products and brands both compelling and great value for money.
“Although there is plenty more to do, we are on track to deliver full-year results in line with market expectations.
“When I leave the business later this year I am confident that it will be in a good position to deliver continued sustainable growth under a strong and capable management team.”