Forget Mrs M&S, it's time to meet Mrs Debenhams – the top priority for department store's new boss Sergio BucherComments Off on Forget Mrs M&S, it's time to meet Mrs Debenhams – the top priority for department store's new boss Sergio Bucher
She’s younger, hipper and likes a glass of prosecco — this is the customer Debenhams’ new boss hopes will outflank its rival’s ideal shopper, Mrs M&S.
Debenhams’ chairman Sir Ian Cheshire presented, “Claire”, who is 41, interested in fashion and likes to break up her frequent shops with a coffee or glass of fizz, as he revealed Sergio Bucher, the European head of Amazon’s fashion business will succeed Michael Sharp at the department store.
Her identification comes a day after new Marks & Spencer boss Steve Rowe promised to “celebrate and cherish” his own core customer, the 50-year-old Mrs M&S, who shops in its stores around 18 times year and wants stylish “everyday essentials”. Courting Claire will be top of the to-do list for Bucher, who will receive an £3.8 million pay package and arrives in October.
“She shops once a week and uses the internet to get ideas. She’s interested in the experience of shopping and the breadth of choice of brand. We can do a lot more for that customer than we can do at the moment and that’s where Sergio is going to spend his time,” Cheshire said.
Bucher, who will receive a base salary of £700,000 and a £5000 clothing allowance, has had a long career in retail including stints at Puma, Nike and Zara-owner Inditex. Cheshire said that experience will help Debenhams develop its Designers at Debenhams ranges and its own-label products.
However, he acknowledged the appointment could be seen as unexpected.
“I was very pleasantly surprised he is leaving such a key player as Amazon to come and join us.”
He described Bucher as “very compelling, open, low ego and a collaborative leader”.
Sharp’s departure was announced last year. His five-year tenure was a rocky one as the company failed to keep up with rivals like John Lewis. In 2013 it suffered two profit warnings after heavy discounting squeezed margins.
Its finance chief Simon Herrick then quit dramatically. Sharp’s work since, including a well-received upgrade of its Oxford Street flagship, boosting online sales, growing its beauty department and cutting discounts has helped put Debenhams on a stronger footing.
Recent updates have shown rising sales, including during the crucial Christmas period.
Cheshire said Bucher’s appointment, which followed a “rigorous” internal and external search, was about bringing in “next-generation vision”.
He would, however, continue to focus on categories like beauty and gifting, which are outpacing clothing with 3% sales growth.