Stobart shakes up board after profit warning

Marion Dakers

ART Group has taken the unorthodox step of appointing an executive chairman to help the haulage firm get back on course.

A week after the FTSE 250 firm warned its profits would be below forecasts, Stobart Group said yesterday that deputy chief executive Avril Palmer-Baunack will become executive chairman with immediate effect.

The Cumbria-based firm also announced the surprise retirement of non-executive chairman, Rodney Baker-Bates, after four years in the role.

Another non-executive director, David Beever, has also abruptly left his seat on the board to spend more time on other business commitments.

Chief executive Andrew Tinkler, who owns almost 10 per cent of Stobart stock, said in a statement: “To meet the challenges and opportunities within our strategy the board now believes it is appropriate that Stobart is headed by an executive chairman.

“In the relatively short time that she has been with the group, Avril has demonstrated to the board that she is the right person to carry out this demanding role.”

Palmer-Baunack joined the firm in September after its purchase of logistics group Autologic.

The move was welcomed by investors, who sent the stock soaring 3.8 per cent.

But the appointment of an executive chairman goes against the UK Corporate Governance Code, which calls for a division of responsibilities between a company’s chairman and chief executive.

Proxy voting agency Manifest described the appointment as “a continuation of poor governance standards”.