On the brink

Congratulations, welcome to the firestorm. That might well have been the greeting for Rachel Osborne last September, when she joined Debenhams (DEB) as its chief financial officer (CFO). With its high fixed costs, pedestrian sales and low profitability, the company was already fighting for survival. She was charged with holding the financing together, but who could have guessed that she would become its only executive director?

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