The Sergio Bucher revolution continues at Debenhams as the executive team welcomes two new faces who will bring fresh impetus to Bucher’s transformation of the retailer.
This week, Paul Justice will arrive from Dixons Carphone as retail operations director later this month, while Ben Jobling has already joined as international director, having held the same position at Dune.
Justice becomes Debenhams’ second director-level recruit from Dixons Carphone in less than six months, following the appointment of highly respected HR director Sally Hyndman in the spring.
He replaces Simon Dales, who is taking his well-earned retirement after an impressive 47 years at the department store chain.
Justice joins at a critical time for Debenhams’ retail operations as Bucher plans to modernise stores and simplify the estate.
Up to 10 stores are due to be reviewed for closure over the next five years, with Debenhams choosing to focus its investment in major shopping destinations where it sees the greatest opportunity to earn a good return.
Justice has huge experience of the shop floor, having spent 12 years as a store manager with Somerfield during the early part of his career.
Having joined Dixons as regional manager for the South and Southeast, he went on to assume responsibility for 24 stores in Greater and Central London under the Curry’s and PC World fascias before being promoted to central operations director in 2012 – a role he retained following the merger with Carphone Warehouse.
“Up to 10 stores are due to be reviewed for closure over the next five years, with Debenhams choosing to focus its investment in major shopping destinations where it sees the greatest opportunity to earn a good return”
Jobling, meanwhile, began his new role as international director in September where he is responsible for identifying new markets, locations and franchise partners, as well as acquisition targets.
He has a significant experience in international retailing. Jobling was instrumental in Ted Baker’s multichannel rollout in the US in the mid-2000s, and progressed to become the retailer’s head of international.
Following a spell as global head of merchandising at Nokia and brief interludes as a consultant and lecturer, he joined Dune at the beginning of 2014 as international director.
Although the Debenhams role is a step up in operational scale, Jobling’s experience of developing business opportunities overseas should stand him in good stead.
Bucher has been in post for almost 18 months now and is beginning to impose his own identity on the Debenhams brand. The balance in the boardroom is also shifting towards Bucher’s own hires, and it will be fascinating to see what the new-look Debenhams has to offer in the months ahead.