Brutal action needed to save Debenhams, says brand agency Fitch

Mark Johnson's picture

Top global branding agency, fitch, has waded into the furore over the future of Debenhams, one of the UK’s most famous high street names.

Aaron Shields, Executive Strategy Director at the branding expert’s London bureau, said billionaire Sports Direct founder, Mike Ashley, who is trying to take control of the company should be allowed to rescue the ailing retailer.

“Take any person under the age of 30 into Debenhams and observe their reaction. Get them to describe what this store is for, and their blank expression will tell you everything you need to know,” Shields said.

Shields: Ashley should sharpen the axe over Debenhams

Ashley, who is also the owner of Newcastle United football club, has launched a coup to take charge ofDebenhams, seeking to remove most of the board and install himself in an executive role.

Despite Ashley’s controversial past as a retailer, Shields said the businessman should be allowed to rescue proceed with his plan to take the company over.

Ashley needs to force the issue

“Mike Ashley needs to sharpen the axe and force these kinds of decisions through, like other retailers. It’s a great brand in serious need of rescue”, Shields added.

He was also critical of Debenhams current board, suggesting the current management wasn’t up to the job in a world increasingly threatened by the rise of online shopping.

“Debenhams has purposely decided to walk, not run. The store experience is antiquated, product assortment is bloated, store network performance is variable and online performance is middling at best”, Shields said. 

“As a result, Debenhams is no longer top-of-mind during normal shopping visits. Poor Christmas figures now clearly demonstrate that customers aren’t thinking about Debenhams during special occasions.

Fitch was the branding agency behind the design of Debenhams’ flagship store in London’s Oxford Street in the 1990s.

Debenhams' shares soared 16 per cent today on news of Ashley's intentions.

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