Wolseley boss to step down

City A.M. Reporter

ISH building supplies company Wolseley said yesterday that chief executive Chip Hornsby would step down with immediate effect, lifting its shares.<br /><br />The plumbers and builders merchant said Ian Meakins would succeed Hornsby on 13 July. Meakins has held positions as chief executive of Travelex Holdings and Alliance Unichem until its merger with Boots.<br /><br />&ldquo;The management changes are a positive for Wolseley,&rdquo; Imran Akram at Collins Stewart said.<br /><br />Andy Brown at Panmure Gordon agreed.<br /><br />&ldquo;After all the recent events at Wolseley, management change is not a major surprise,&rdquo; Brown said.<br /><br />&ldquo;An external replacement is likely to be well received as it should ensure that no stones are left unturned,&rdquo; he said, maintaining a &ldquo;sell&rdquo; recommendation on the stock.<br /><br />Wolseley has cut thousands of jobs in response to a slump in the property and construction sectors and in March raised over &pound;1bn pounds from investors to rebuild its debt-laden balance sheet.<br /><br />Shares in the company, which slid to their lowest point in more than a decade in March, have doubled in value since then to almost 1,200p each but are still a long way short of levels above 5,000p seen in early 2007.<br /><br />The company returned to the FTSE 100 index of blue-chip stocks earlier this month having been demoted to the FTSE 250 midcap index in March.<br />The stock closed up three per cent at 1,158p.<br /><br /><strong>IAN MEAKINS<br />NEW CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF WOLSELEY</strong><br /><br />Ian Meakins, 52,&nbsp; will take up the &pound;775,000 Wolseley chief executive role on 13 July.<br /><br />Meakins most recently headed currency exchange and international payments business Travelex Holdings.<br /><br />He was chief of Alliance UniChem until its merger with UK retailer Boots in 2006. He also held several senior roles at beverages giant Diageo between 2000 and 2004.<br /><br />Wolseley chairman John Whybrow said Meakin&rsquo;s &ldquo;knowledge of the retail&nbsp; and distribution industries as well as experience in countries outside of the US and UK will be exploited.&rdquo;<br />