Chemring drafts in another CEO as its profits fall

TROUBLED defence contactor Chemring, which yesterday reported a 29 per cent fall in pre-tax profit, has parted company with chief executive Mark Papworth, replacing him with former Australian army officer Michael Flowers.

Papworth, who had been tasked with turning around the FTSE-listed contractor, stepped down less than two years into the job.

Flowers is already a member of the company’s executive committee and earlier this year oversaw the sale of Chemring’s munitions business.

Chemring has been reeling under defence budget cuts in the US, its largest market, in the past few years.

It did not say why Papworth, under whose tenure the stock lost more than a third of its value, was leaving.

Flowers, formerly head of Chemring’s Australian business, worked previously with BAE Systems, Europe’s biggest defence contractor.

Flowers’ defence background is expected to help him take on the tough challenge of grappling with defence spending cuts across the globe that have forced Chemring to issue a slew of profit warnings in the past few years.

Chemring reported yesterday a 29 per cent fall in underlying pre-tax profit for the first half to £18m. Revenue for the six months to 30 April fell about seven per cent to £277.4m.

FROM THE ARMY TO THE BOARD ROOM

BEFORE he was appointed Chemring’s second chief executive in under two years, Michael Flowers (pictured) served as the company’s group director, countermeasures, and was a member of the Hampshire-based defence contractor’s executive committee.

Flowers, who served for 22 years in the Australian military, spent 13 years in senior management positions within the defence industry. He is a graduate of the Australian Command and Staff College and the British Royal Military College of Science, at Cranfield University, at Shrivenham in Oxfordshire.

After leaving the army, he worked for BAE Systems (Australia) from 2001 to 2005 in programme and project management roles.

In 2005, he was appointed managing director of Chemring Australia, a role he held until 2013, when he was appointed group director, munitions, with responsibility for Chemring’s European munitions business. The 52-year-old led the successful sale of the European munitions business following the 2013 strategic review, working closely with Chemring’s board and advisers to negotiate and complete the £134.5m disposal in May 2014.