Department store group Debenhams has named Nigel Northridge as its new chairman.

Northridge, who joined the retailer’s board at the start of this year, will succeed incumbent chairman John Lovering who is standing down at the end of March.

Northridge, who is also chairman of betting firm Paddy Power and a non-executive director of Aggreko, Thomas Cook and Inchcape, spent most of his career at Gallaher where he rose to become chief executive. He spent 32 years at the tobacco firm, which was sold in 2007 for £9.4bn.

Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman said: “Nigel has a wealth of experience in a number of businesses and industries which will be a major resource for the company.

“We look forward to his guidance as we anticipate the continued growth and development of Debenhams.”

Northridge said: “Debenhams has performed well during the recession, goring profits and market share and restructuring its balance sheet. It has developed its own unique model in a very competitive marketplace.”

Templeman paid tribute to Lovering’s contribution to Debenhams and said his “wise counsel” has been an asset to the business.