Leighton set to chair Pace

Marion Dakers
UK BUSINESS veteran Allan Leighton is set to take up the chairmanship of struggling TV set-top box maker Pace over the next few days.

Leighton has been lined up to replace Mike McTighe, who has been chairman since 2006.

His appointment will be announced by the company this week, City A.M. can confirm.

The news comes less than a week after Leighton was unveiled as the new chairman of budget fashion chain Peacocks.

Since leaving the top job at Asda in 2000 after overseeing the supermarket’s sale to Walmart, Leighton has held a string of high-profile roles including the chair of Royal Mail, where he faced down a national postal strike.

He has also helped turn around Canadian supermarket chain Loblaw as part of his advisory work for the Weston family, and sits on the board of broadcaster BSkyB as a non-executive director.

Leighton has also put his retail experience to work for the Westons in the UK, taking up the role of deputy chairman at their family-owned Selfridges in 2004.

He described his career change as “going plural”, and has since set up an advice site for those hoping to work across several companies.

He will have his work cut out for him at Pace, which saw £300m wiped off its market cap earlier this month after a profit warning.

The firm, which makes set-top boxes for receiving digital TV and broadband, warned that supply chains issues linked to the Japanese earthquake and delays to a US contract would mean operating profit would be below consensus estimates of £114m.

Despite the shock announcement, board members were comfortably re-elected at the AGM three days later, with McTighe himself getting 95.5 per cent support from investors.

But McTighe told shareholders at a meeting that the performance was “disappointing” and that the board needed to learn lessons from the profit warning.

Analysts said at the time that the firm faces an “uphill struggle in rebuilding confidence”, with several predicting a management shake-up as part of the overhaul.

Pace declined to comment yesterday, while Leighton was unavailable.