Sports Direct pushes Debenhams bosses off the board

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"The board is mindful of its responsibilities to all shareholders and has full confidence in Sergio and in the management's plan to reshape the business".

Struggling UK department store Debenhams has reported a 3.4 per cent drop in like-for-like sales over the crucial six-week Christmas trading period to 5 January 2019, after reporting a record full-year loss of almost 500 million pounds ($886.5 million) in FY18.

The firm's shares closed down over 14 per cent yesterday, after it reported a 3.4 per cent sales drop over the holiday period.

Comparable sales in the United Kingdom were 3.6% lower than a year ago, due to weak store footfall that also affected other high street retailers.

The figures are part of a sustained decline suffered by Debenhams' for the last three years.

It is understood that Mike Ashley's Sports Direct and Dubai-based Landmark Group, which collectively hold about 38% of Debenhams's shares, voted against Sir Ian remaining on the board.

However it added: "Of the votes cast".

However, the board and Mr Bucher agreed that he should continue as CEO and report to the board, Debenhams said.

Cheshire, a former boss of the B&Q owner, Kingfisher, said: "In unprecedented market conditions the team has worked incredibly hard to build a format for the future and a comprehensive plan to reshape the business, which will put Debenhams on the road to recovery and future success".

Sergio Bucher, the firm's chief executive, was thrown from the board but will continue in his position.

Two of the Debenham's major shareholders voted for Sir Cheshire to step down.

It bought department store chain House of Fraser out of administration for £90m past year and analysts have speculated that Ashley might want to put the two department store groups together.

Terry Duddy, Debenhams' senior independent director, has been appointed interim chairman.

"I recognise that individual shareholders have wished to register their dissatisfaction". I am looking forward to working with Sergio.

Sports Direct, which is owned by British billionaire Mike Ashley, acquired another struggling department store, House of Fraser, last year, after it went into administration, for 90 million pounds ($159.6 million), and some have speculated that Ashley is interested in combining the two businesses, according to Reuters.

Sports Direct already owns almost 30% of the shares in the department store chain and has offered a further £40m investment. Debenhams rejected his offer, but said all options remain open. The company said it still expected to meet profit targets - but only after £30m of additional cost savings, starting with a hiring freeze at its head office and the earlier than planned closure of its Lodge Farm distribution centre in Northamptonshire.

He confirmed that Debenhams was in talks with its lenders about its £520m credit line.

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