Name: Simon Herrick
Was: CFO & acting CEO at Northern Foods
Now: CFO at Debenhams

Career background: Herrick was formerly group finance director and subsequently acting CEO at Northern Foods. He is a former finance director of Kesa Electricals and PA Consulting Group, and non-executive director at Darty. He has also held senior roles at Regus, Hays and PepsiCo. He’s a fluent French speaker, having worked for some years in Paris and Scandinavia in the 1990s.

What is he doing now? Herrick joined the board of Debenhams in November 2011 and was appointed CFO in January 2012. He has been leading the company’s extensive programme of store modernisation, with 18 completed last year and another five already started in 2013. Debenhams has been trading strongly, with figures exceeding expectations throughout the downturn. Its first full-brand ad campaign led to its best-ever Christmas sales figures in 2012, with a 39% increase in online sales in the 18 weeks to 5 January.

At Northern Foods: Herrick oversaw a strong performance in chilled and dairy, while rebuilding the ailing Goodfella’s pizza brand and planning to reduce Northern Foods’ pension deficit. Within a year of arriving at Northern, he’d put together the company’s proposed merger with Greencore, which he described as “a great deal and great opportunity for the shareholders”. Following the intervention of Ranjit Boparan in January 2011, Herrick oversaw the company’s sale to Boparan’s 2 Sisters Food Group. When CEO Stefan Barden left Northern Foods in November 2010, he took up the role temporarily, departing in June 2011.

What’s next? Still only 49, with widespread experience in the food industry and, at Debenhams, in driving online and overseas retail growth, Herrick would surely be in demand back at a big supermarket.