Debenhams marketing boss Richard Cristofoli replaced by chief restructuring officer

Retailers must innovate and consider how they can create spaces where people can come together to connect / Debenhams

Debenhams' longtime marketing boss Richard Cristofoli has “regretfully” exited the business amid an executive shake-up designed to return the struggling retailer to health.

As first reported by Drapers, the brand's managing director for marketing, beauty and digital is to leave the business after eight years in the top marketing job.

The changes come as part of a wider restructure from newly-enlisted chief executive Stefaan Vansteenkiste. The boss wants to streamline senior operations at the business, which is plotting 50 store closures after signing a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) earlier this year

Stores, operations and food managing director Mark Ashman — who has been in the job for less than one year — and transformation and people director Sally Hyndman will also step down from their roles.

Erin Brookes, who was on secondment at the store from Alvarez & Marsal (the same firm Vansteenkiste joined Debenhams from) has been appointed as chief restructuring officer and interim marketing director as a result of the changes.

Vansteenkiste said the changes will give the chain the "right structure" to increase the focus on key areas of our business and "take a first step in achieving some of the objectives we’ve been talking about during town hall meetings."

Cristofoli had a wide remit and was responsible for launching Debenhams' 'beauty hall of the future' concept as well as orchestrating the retailer's return to TV in following a six-year absence in 2013.

In a statement he said it had been a "pleasure" to spend the past eight years at Debenhams- including the past two years leading the beauty as well as the marketing teams.

“While the past six months have been challenging for all kinds of reasons, we have continued with our drive to move the business and the brand forward," he said.

Managing director Steven Cook will now oversee beauty in addition to his current fashion and home responsibilities. Digital will be handled by Debenhams international director Jess Shepherd, according to Retail Gazette.

Debenhams' CVA is currently facing legal action from one of its landlords, backed by House of Fraser owner and former Debenham's stakeholder Mike Ashley.

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