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Sports Direct boss Mike Ashley gives Debenhams chairman the boot

Boardroom battle: 
Ian Cheshire and (below) Mike
Ashley PICTURES: GETTY/BLOOMBERG

MIKE ASHLEY yesterday forced the chairman of Debenhams to resign and its chief executive to step down from the board at the company’s annual meeting.

The Sports Direct tycoon ousted Sir Ian Cheshire after the retail chain and Dubai-based Landmark group, which collectively hold 38 per cent of Debenhams shares, voted against his re-election. Sports Direct’s stake is just under 30 per cent.

Sergio Bucher is to stay on as chief executive, and will continue with the company’s restructuring plan. The company said it was in the ‘best interests of Debenhams plc that the executive team remains fully focused on delivery of the plan’.

Interim chairman Terry Duddy said his first task was ‘to meet with shareholders so that I understand any concerns that they may have’.

Earlier, Debenhams said like-for-like sales dipped by 3.4 per cent in the six weeks to January 5, but it defied fears of a profit warning.