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Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 17:44 GMT
Debenhams chief to take maternity leave
debenhams store
Debenhams says its chief executive's role will be 'unaffected' by maternity leave
The boss of Debenhams, Belinda Earl, is to become the first chief executive of a leading public company to take time off from work to have a baby.

Ms Earl is due to have her second child in early September, a year after she took over the helm at the retailer, replacing Terry Green.

"It is very much business as normal," Joanna Lane-Jones, director of corporate communications, told BBC News Online.

nicola horlick, superwoman
City high-flier Nicola Horlick, who successfully juggles a career and motherhood

"She is expecting to have a short amount of maternity leave off but she will want to keep a hands on approach to the business and her role will be unaffected by it," she added.

Ms Earl will be presenting the store group's preliminary results to the City in October.

Managing Director Peter Kaursland will chair any meetings in her absence.

Other high-flying mothers

Belinda Earl is the first woman in such a top position in a public company to be taking maternity leave.

Although a few other City high fliers - Nicola Horlick is perhaps the best-known example - have managed to combine motherhood with a career.

Recently Katherine Garrett-Cox, the 1m-a-year chief investment officer of Aberdeen Asset Management, announced she was to take four months off to have her second child this summer.

When she was appointed in January she said: "Being a mother doesn't actually present any difficulties, it's about priorities. But work is important to me and this new role is a large one".

The prime-minister's wife Cherie Blair is another woman who combines a top flight career as a barrister with raising four children.

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See also:

13 Sep 00 | Business
Debenhams boss steps down
16 Jan 01 | Business
Sales up at Debenhams and Safeway
17 Oct 00 | Business
Profits slip at Debenhams
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