LONDON — Sergio Bucher, currently vice president of Amazon Fashion Europe, has been named chief executive officer of the British department store Debenhams.
The company, which has been struggling in an ever more competitive high-street environment, said Bucher would join in October.
The executive, who had been in his Amazon role since 2013, will replace Michael Sharp, who resigned last October after a raft of disappointing results, profit warnings and increasing shareholder pressure. Sharp will step down from the board on June 24.
Debenhams shares were up 0.9 percent to 0.74 pounds, or $1.08 at current exchange, in early afternoon trading.
At Amazon, Bucher built up the fashion and accessories business, bringing in high-end designers to work on special collaborations, and presiding over the opening of the online giant’s biggest fashion photography studio, spanning 46,000 square feet in London’s Hoxton neighborhood.
Prior to joining Amazon, he was general manager, retail and e-commerce worldwide, at Puma, and before that he held retail roles at Nike and Inditex, where he led the start-up of the lingerie retail brand Oysho.
In Bucher’s new role, he’ll be overseeing Debenhams’ 253 stores across 27 countries.
“Following a rigorous recruitment process with some exceptional quality candidates, Sergio’s wealth of e-commerce expertise, international experience and clear leadership qualities stood out,” said Sir Ian Cheshire, the company’s chairman. “I am confident we have the best possible person to realize the potential of ‘new Debenhams’ as a leading international, multichannel retailer with a bright future.”
He did not provide any details on what the ‘new Debenhams’ would be.
According to Debenhams, Bucher’s basic salary will be 700,000 pounds, or $1.02 million, and he will be able to participate in the executive directors’ bonus scheme with a maximum bonus opportunity in his first year of 150 percent of basic salary.
In subsequent years his maximum bonus opportunity will be 100 percent of basic salary.
In addition, Bucher will receive an award under the Debenhams performance share plan to the value of 200 percent of basic salary in the grant window that follows his date of joining.
For the first two years of his employment he will be provided with a housing allowance of 5,000 pounds, or $7,326, per month, after tax, and the company has agreed to meet his relocation expenses up to an agreed level of 30,000 pounds, or $44,000, after tax. Bucher is currently based in Switzerland.
He is expected to forfeit an award of restricted stock in an Amazon stock plan, and will be compensated with a cash payment from Debenhams of 445,184 pounds, or $652,350, which represents the value of that stock on the business day prior to this announcement.
Debenhams has a market capitalization of 911 million pounds, or $1.33 billion, and over the years has fallen victim to a number of factors including competition on the high street; a store and brand portfolio in need of modernization, and heavy seasonal discounting that has been plaguing many U.K. retailers, including the store’s rival Marks and Spencer.