Debenhams finance boss steps down following shock profit warning

Debenhams chief financial officer, Simon Herrick, has resigned just days after the department store issued a profit warning following poor Christmas trading.

Herrick has stepped down with immediate effect, though he will leave the company formally by 7 February.

No reason has been given for Herrick’s departure, but the news follows an announcement on Tuesday that the department store’s profits were expected to plummet by up to 26% after failing to bring in more customers in the busy Christmas shopping season. The news saw shares in the business fall by 12%.

Herrick was also under pressure after news of a “Santa tax” emerged. In a letter to suppliers, the department store had demanded discounts in the days leading up to Christmas.

Investors are also said to be angry with guidance provided to analysts this year, in particular by a surprise profit warning in March, and unexpected additional costs in the firm’s full year results announced in October.

Debenhams has said it has begun looking for Herrick’s replacement, while finance director Neil Kennedy takes the role on a temporary basis.

Herrick will continue to receive his salary and benefits worth nearly £490,000 over a 12-month notice period, with up to £12,000 on top to cover legal fees.

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