Debenhams

Debenhams chief executive Michael Sharp will leave the company next year after five years in charge.

The department store chain said that Mr Sharp had always planned to stay in the role for five years. Reports had suggested that several investors were unhappy with performance and wanted changes to be made at the top.

Mr Sharp said: "I hope being transparent... will stop recent speculation becoming a distraction.

"I accepted the job of chief executive with the intention of spending five years in the role and although it will be difficult to leave a fabulous company like Debenhams, now is the right time for the board to begin the process of identifying my successor."

He became chief executive in 2011 and has spent 30 years with Debenhams, or its predecessor, Burton Group.

Despite a number of changes in the way Debenhams operates, sales and profits have risen marginally over the past few years under Michael Sharp.

Debenhams also announced that its profits grew 7.3% to £113.5 million in its full financial year. Like-for-like sales, which exclude new stores, were up 2.1%.