Debenhams boss to bust targets

Debenhams chief Rob Templeman is bullish about the prospects of his new charge and plans to expand the business beyond the 120-store target established by the former board.

Templeman would not comment on the department store group's Christmas trading, which proved tough for peers House of Fraser and Beatties. He said: 'What we bought is what we got.'

But he added: 'We have got a great brand and some great people. We bought the business to expand and are committed to store openings - if anything we will open more than in the business plan.'

The retailer is slated to open at least three shops - at Newry, Craigavon and Gateshead's MetroCentre - this autumn as part of the push to create a 120-strong estate by 2007.

Templeman has shed some light on his strategy for the business, snapped up by private equity consortium Baroness Retail for£1.7 billion last autumn.

He is attempting to wring better deals from suppliers and plans to target young fashion - a field in which he maintains Debenhams 'does not punch its weight'.

There has also been speculation about the retailer's relationship with Nectar, the loyalty scheme it anchors alongside Sainsbury's.

'We have been in here four or five weeks now,' said Templeman. 'We are working our way through a complete business review.'