Fresh from setting out a bold new strategy for Debenhams, Sergio Bucher has hired two “change-makers” as the Debenhams’ boss puts it, to help drive the retailer’s transformation.
And Bucher has recruited well, with the hugely experienced and well respected Sally Hyndman joining as HR Director and the highly rated Angela Morrison taking up the role of technology and supply chain director.
Bucher’s new five-year plan to rejuvenate Debenhams aligns well with the skillsets of his new hires.
He plans to transform Debenhams’ multichannel capabilities through greater use of digital media and a focus on mobile – an ambition that Morrison, with her experience of heading up IT at Sainsbury’s coupled with a recent spell as CIO of Direct Line Group, is well qualified to deliver.
Morrison is enthusiastic about a return to retail after her time in insurance and will surely relish the chance to put her own stamp on the transformation of Debenhams under Bucher.
Bucher is also looking to achieve a cultural shift by empowering employees to think creatively with the aim of constructing a dynamic business that is prepared to innovate and take risks.
Hyndman is the ideal candidate to shape this agenda. She was an influential figure in her last role as group HR director at Dixons Carphone and was heavily involved in setting the HR strategy following the merger of the two standalone businesses. She also led a number of business transformation initiatives during a successful 18-year tenure at M&S where she built her reputation as an effective operator.
After a challenging period during which it has struggled to carve out a clear identity in a crowded marketplace, the new strategy marks Bucher’s attempt to position Debenhams as a leader in what he terms “social shopping”.
It also presents a good opportunity to refresh the executive team – for new faces to come in and for loyal servants to seek a new challenge. Outgoing HR director Nikki Zamblera has been a key presence at the retailer over the past 12 years and leaves a fine legacy, including a range of new HR processes and systems.
Morrison, meanwhile, will replace Peter Swann who leaves after four and a half years of service to take up the role of operating director at WH Smith, an excellent opportunity for Swann who helped build Debenhams’ multichannel supply chain.
Last month’s reported 6.4% fall in half-year profits on flat sales shows Bucher and his leadership team have work to do to turn Debenhams into a destination for customers who increasingly want shopping to be a pleasurable, not just convenient, experience.
He’s made a good start by hiring two candidates who, on paper, are more than up to the task.