Debenhams has appointed a turnaround expert to lead the business, as it prepares to close stores and rebuild performance after being put into administration earlier this year.

Stefaan Vansteenkiste is to become chief executive, while chairman Terry Duddy will step down from the board in September.

Mr Vansteenkiste has already been working at the company as chief restructuring officer since April, when the group was put into administration and fell into the hands of its lenders.

He is a managing director at professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal, and has previously been chief executive of Holland's Intertoys chain and food group Vion.

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He said: "The retail industry faces a challenging environment and everyone at Debenhams acknowledges that.

"But we have a clear plan and Debenhams has a great team of people who are committed to delivering it.

"I am very excited about Debenhams' strong prospects and with a restructured balance sheet there is a robust platform from which to build a turnaround, based on Debenhams' clear brand focus, broad customer reach and differentiated product offer."

He succeeds Sergio Bucher, who stepped down shortly after the company's administration this year.

He had already been voted off the board by Mike Ashley's Sports Direct at a general meeting in January.

The same meeting also led to previous chairman Ian Cheshire being ousted from the company, after which he was replaced by Mr Duddy.

Mr Duddy will now stay on to ensure a smooth handover to Mr Vansteenkiste, before stepping down in September.

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Mr Duddy said: "The board welcomes Stefaan's appointment as CEO.

"We concluded that he is the right person to take the business forward into the next phase of its recovery. Stefaan has already made a strong contribution since joining Debenhams, and has the support of our investor consortium to drive forward our turnaround plan."

Debenhams gained approval for rent cuts and store closures through a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) earlier this year, paving the way for 50 store closures and 1,200 job losses.

Property agent Savills has posted falling half-year profits after Brexit uncertainty and political unrest in Hong Kong took their toll.

The group reported a 12% fall in underlying pre-tax profits, on a constant currency basis, to £38.4 million for the six months to June 30.

On a statutory basis, pre-tax profits dropped 7% to £24.7 million.

Savills said UK residential property market sales by volume remained "challenging" and at the lowest level since the financial crisis as underlying profits in the division plunged 44% to £3.5 million.

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But the group said it outperformed the market with a 1.5% fall in UK residential revenues to £57.3 million despite ongoing woes in the central London sector.

Group-wide transaction advisory profits halved to £9.9 million - down 54% with currency effects stripped out - which it said reflected a "decline in capital markets activity in some of our key commercial markets and the impact of investment in key teams".

Shares fell 2% after the figures.

Group chief executive Mark Ridley said: "In many markets, particularly the UK and Hong Kong, political and economic uncertainty has considerably reduced the volume of real estate trading activity in recent months, although occupier demand remains robust."

Britain's residential and commercial property markets have been knocked by Brexit uncertainty and recent ramped-up fears of a no-deal withdrawal.

Savills, which operates worldwide, has also seen the Hong Kong market hit by recent mass political protests.

Underlying profits in the Asia-Pacific commercial transaction arm dropped 26% to £4.2 million, while residential profits in the region tumbled 48% to £1.4 million.

The Co-operative Bank narrowed its losses in the first half, but warned that profitability is under pressure in the competitive mortgage market.

The group posted a statutory loss before tax of £38.5 million for the six months to June 30, an improvement on the £39.5 million loss a year ago.

It also reported an underlying loss of £2.8 million, compared with a £11.2 million profit for the same period last year.

The bank said the losses were "favourable to expectations" and its priority was to return to profit as soon as possible.

Customer net interest margin was lower at 1.83%, compared with 2.08% this time last year, due to reductions in mortgage margins amid the competitive market.

Chief executive Andrew Bester said: "We've delivered a positive first-half financial performance that is ahead of expectations and, although loss-making overall, is near break-even on an underlying basis.

"We have seen margin headwinds this year so far, but our safe lending book provides resilience in what is a challenging retail banking market and an ongoing uncertain political and economic backdrop."