Debenhams eyes up European turnaround veteran as it looks to save business

Published on: April 11th, 2019

Stefaan Vansteenkiste, former interim CEO of Intertoys, is close to being appointed as chief restructuring officer of the retailer, according to Sky News.

As reported by Sky News, the new owners of Debenhams are close to parachuting in one of Europe’s most experienced turnaround executives just hours after taking control of the department store chain.

Stefaan Vansteenkiste, a managing director at the professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal, is being lined up as chief restructuring officer of Debenhams‎. The appointments of A&M‎ and Stefaan are expected to be announced by the end of the week, although one insider cautioned that an agreement had yet to be formally confirmed between the firm and the chain’s new owners.

The talks underline the determination of Debenhams’ new owners – a group of banks and largely American hedge funds – to press ahead with a root-and-branch overhaul of the heavily indebted business. A Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA)‎ involving the closure of dozens of stores and loss of thousands of jobs is expected to be launched in the coming weeks.

Stefaan is a long-serving restructuring advisor across industries including aviation, leisure‎ and retail. He was recently the interim chief executive of Intertoys, a Benelux-based toy retailer that trades from 500 stores. ‎It was unclear on Wednesday how long Stefaan, who is regarded as an expert in operational restructuring, would work at Debenhams.

The department store chain’s collapse sparked a furious riposte from Mike Ashley, the boss of its biggest shareholder, Sports Direct International‎, who described the administration of Debenhams as “a national scandal” and called for it to be reversed.

If you would like to receive our daily newsflash email, click here; you can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook and request a print subscription here.