JOHN Lovering is set to step down as chairman of the pubs group Mitchells & Butlers this week, a year after taking over following an investor-led board battle.
Lovering, the former chairman of retailer Debenhams, has told the board he wants to leave as soon as a successor is found, because he feels he has done as much as he can to improve the group.
His departure is expected to be announced at the company’s annual meeting this week.
A source familiar with the company told City A.M.: “It has always been his intention to leave once he’d done what he set out to do.
“He came in last year and set out a new strategy in March, which was to have foods-led, rather than drinks led pubs, and that is now the focus of the company.”
Lovering joined the M&B board in January last year following a high-profile row instigated by the Bahamas-based Joe Lewis. Lewis had been involved in a public spat with M&B, who accused him of trying to take control of the board.
The group, which has over 1,600 pubs and restaurants and whose chains include Harvester, All Bar One and Toby Carvery, sold over 300 pubs in the last year, helping it to reduce debt. Its financial results have also improved, and the share price is up almost 30 per cent in the year since Lovering took the helm.
In September it reported a 4.4 per cent increase in sales at outlets open for more than a year, driven by a surge in demand for food.