Debenhams' CEO is throwing in the towel

A model walks the runway during the Debenhams show at Yas Mall Fashion Week on October 15, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by )Cedric Ribeiro/Getty ImagesA model walks the runway during the Debenhams show at Yas Mall Fashion Week on October 15, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

The boss of struggling department store Debenhams is leaving after 5 years in the job, bowing to pressure from investors.

Debenhams announced today that Michael Sharp has told the board to start looking for a successor, as we will leave sometime next year. Sharp has been CEO since 2011.

Sharp and chairman Nigel Northridge have been facing pressure from a group of high-profile shareholders including Cenkos, Milestone Resources, Schroders, and Old Mutual, City AM reports. The group looking to oust the leadership holds a collective 25% of Debenhams shares.

Debenhams has had a rough few years. The company suffered a run of profit warnings 2 years ago and sales and profits remain weak.

The company announced today a full-year pre-tax profit in line with forecasts, up 7% to £113.5 million, but underlying sales only inched ahead 0.6% when you strip out currency fluctuations.

Sharp says in this morning’s statement:

It is a privilege to lead Debenhams and I am very proud of our achievements since September 2011. I believe Debenhams is now capable of competing in the ever-changing and challenging world of multi-channel retailing. 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.

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