Debenhams chief executive Rob Templeman claimed his team was becoming the 'whipping boy' of a backlash against private equity after the department store chain’s third profit warning since December sent shares diving by almost 15%. Financial Times. The Times.

Templeman, who delivered lavish returns when Debenhams was privately owned, thanks in part to a sale-and-leaseback strategy, pledged to reverse the retailer's decline that has occurred since it rejoined the stock market last May.

He promised the store refurbishment programme would be stepped up.

Yesterday Debenhams reported like-for-like sales were down 6.9% in the first few weeks of the second half of the financial year, Debenhams said as it confirmed a 4.5% like-for-like decline over the six months to 3 March.

its shares closed down 25.5p, or 14.7%, at a new low of 148.5p -asTempleman warned that full-year profits would fall short of expectations.