Pedestrians pass a Debenhams store in Oxford Street in London, Britain, 25 October 2018. According to news reports Debenhams has confirmed plans to shut fifty of it stores across the UK. Some 5,000 jobs may be at risk.Debenhams confirms plans to shut up to 50 stores, London, United Kingdom - 25 Oct 2018

LONDON — Debenhams Group named Stefaan Vansteenkiste chief executive officer, while chairman of the group Terry Duddy will step down in September.

“The board welcomes Stefaan’s appointment as ceo. Stefaan has already made a strong contribution since joining Debenhams, and has the support of our investor consortium to drive forward our turnaround plan,” Duddy said.

Vansteenkiste joined the company in April as chief restructuring officer and prior to that, was a managing director at professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal. He replaces Sergio Bucher, who stepped down in April, and will work on delivering a turnaround plan for the retailer.

Debenhams went into administration in April this year after rejecting a takeover deal from Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley and it is now in the hands of banks and lenders.

Since then, the retailer has identified 22 stores to shut by 2020 as part of the first stage of a restructuring plan outlined in October. It plans to close up to 50 stores, putting 1,200 jobs at risk.

“The retail industry faces a challenging environment and everyone at Debenhams acknowledges that. I am very excited about Debenhams’ strong prospects and with a restricted balance sheet there is a robust platform from which to build a turnaround, based on Debenhams’ clear brand focus, broad customer reach and differentiated product offer,” Vansteenkiste said.

As part of its restructuring plan, Debenhams is focusing on its beauty offering and strategy. The retailer’s new beauty shop floor concept will roll be rolled out across 20 Debenhams stores by the end of the year.