Irish department store Arnotts has promoted its chief operating officer Ray Hernan to the position of chief executive.

Hernan, a chartered accountant, takes up the post with immediate effect. He replaces Nigel Blow who took up the position of chairman earlier this year.

Hernan takes the Arnotts helm at a challenging time. The retailer is aiming to restructure its €368.6m debt and racked up losses of €3m in the year to the end of January 2013, although this was an improvement on the €19.4m losses it made in the previous year.

Arnotts said Hernan has a “wealth of senior management experience across a range of sectors in the Irish economy”. 

He joined Arnotts in 2010 and before that held senior finance positions in Brown Thomas, Selfridges and Ryanair.

Blow said: “On behalf of my fellow directors, I wish Ray the very best of luck in what are both challenging and exciting times for the company. I have had the pleasure of working alongside Ray for the past three years, where a lot has been accomplished. I look forward to continuing that close and effective working relationship in the years ahead, as do his colleagues.”