Debenham's fat cats grossed £ 35 million in the years leading up to the collapse

Debenham's fat cats raked £ 35 million: bosses lined the bags years before the collapse

  • The department store collapsed this week, putting 12,000 jobs at risk
  • Experts claim crippling debts have emerged in private equity ownership

According to a mail audit, the top brass at Debenhams grossed more than £ 35 million in salaries and perks in the years leading up to its collapse.

Having been a staple of the high street since opening its first store in 1778, the department store collapsed this week, putting 12,000 jobs at risk before Christmas.

Bosses blamed the coronavirus’s punitive impact on sales, but experts said the company's troubles were also due to crippling debts it had borrowed from private equity.

Problems in the Store: Rob Templeman, Michael Sharp, John Lovering and Chris Woodhouse found rich rewards at the doomed retailer

And analysis of its accounts through the Mail shows that bosses who led the retailer through its return to the stock market and the turmoil that followed have added millions of pounds each year.

This includes former managing director Rob Templeman who was in charge from 2003 to 2011 and made at least £ 7.9 million.

Despite citing Debenhams as he amassed more than £ 1 billion in debt – and paid out £ 1 billion in dividends to his private equity owners – he claimed this week that he left the company well and had no responsibility for recent troubles .

Successor Michael Sharp, who was managing director until 2016, pocketed at least 10.4 million pounds over 12 years, seven of them as Templeman's deputy.

Former Amazon executive Sergio Bucher, who took office in 2016 and headed Debs' first administrative breakdown in 2019, received £ 2.3 million in pay.

Former Debenhams chairman John Lovering, who served from 2003 to 2010, received £ 1.5million while Nigel Northridge, his successor through 2016, received £ 1.1million. Sir Ian Cheshire, who was next to take over, received £ 527,000 for three years of work.

CFO Chris Woodhouse was in office from 2003 to 2012 and received a total of £ 6.4 million. His successor, Simon Henrick, who was in the job from 2012 to 2014, received £ 1.2m and Matt Smith, who took over from 2015, pocketed £ 1.9m. Suzanne Harlow, Group Trading Director from 2014-2017, received £ 2.1m.

A woman wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of Covid 19 walks past Debenhams on Oxford Street

A woman wearing a face mask to prevent the spread of Covid 19 walks past Debenhams on Oxford Street

Luke Hildyard, director of the High Pay Center, accused former Debenahams bosses of "executive greed".

He added, “This is a really sad story, and Debenham's workers and their families are right to feel angry. It is an example too common in UK business. & # 39;

The retailer was acquired in 2003 by a consortium that included Templeman, Lovering, private equity firms CVC Capital, and Texas Pacific and Merrill Lynch. The consortium financed the acquisition with debt and paid a dividend of £ 1 billion.

Debenhams returned to the stock market in 2006 with £ 1.2 billion in debt and fell into the hands of his lenders last year after he ran out of money. The bosses blamed competition from online competitors, crippling debt, and onerous rent payments in their stores.

After a pre-pack administration process that wiped out investors like Sports Direct tycoon Mike Ashley, the company cut thousands of jobs and closed dozens of stores, but the virus lockdown forced it to temporarily close its doors and move into a trade administration step in to survive & # 39 ;.

The company then looked for a new investment or buyer to save it. But Debenhams eventually collapsed under the weight of his debt obligations after JD Sports pulled out of takeover talks.

The retail chain still owed creditors £ 700 million when it went into administration in April.