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FD news: Pets at Home CFO scratched

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22nd Apr 2016
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Welcome to FD news, our round-up of business arrivals, departures and other executive morsels. This week featuring HSS, Pets at Home and John Menzies...

CFO departure turns the screw on HSS

20 Apr – Embattled tool hire firm HSS has announced the departure of their chief financial officer Steve Trowbridge.

Trowbridge is stepping down to pursue new opportunities after seven years with the hire group. He will be replaced on an interim basis by former Co-Operative food group finance director Steve Bailey.

The news is the latest in a string of difficulties for HSS following last February’s flotation. The company has issued two profit warnings, changed CEO and seen its share price plunge from the 210p float price to 81.75p yesterday. HSS also recently posted a loss of £13.8m for last year, an increase on 2014’s £8.5m loss.

Interim CFO Bailey is expected to continue the cost reduction programme implemented by HSS in the second half of 2015, and reduce capital expenditure after two years of fleet investment.

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Acton an asset for Gresham House

19 Apr – AIM-traded asset manager Gresham House has appointed Kevin Acton as their new finance director.

Acton, who will start his new role on 6 June, joins from Oaktree Capital Management where he was SVP responsible for finance and operations in the European principal team, with combined assets under management of around €5.5bn (£4.4bn).

Prior to joining Oaktree, Kevin was Director, Group Reporting and Valuations for 3i Group. Kevin qualified as a charted accountant in 2004 with Deloitte LLP where he worked with a number of private equity and asset management clients.

Commenting on the appointment Gresham House CEO Anthony Dalwood said Acton has “significant experience in both asset management and private equity, which will be of great benefit to us as we implement the next stage of our plan to develop and grow Gresham House as a specialist asset manager.

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John Menzies CFO flies the nest

18 Apr - Aviation services and print distribution company John Menzies has announced the resignation of chief financial officer Paula Bell.

Bell leaves to take up an equivalent role at communications management firm Spirent. Her departure comes just three months after the company’s CEO Jeremy Stafford resign citing personal reasons. Stafford has yet to be replaced, with the daily running of the company currently supervised by the board.

In March the company reported that although turnover for the aviation arm of their business was up 6%, pre-tax profits for 2015 had fallen 29% to £18.2m, and blamed on operational issues at Gatwick for this slump.

Herald Scotland reported that setbacks in the firm’s aviation business led to Bell receiving no bonus last year as pre-tax profit missed targets, her total remuneration falling from £549,000 to £398,000.

Giles Wilson will step in as CFO from 1 July 2016, with Bell continuing in her role until 29 July to ensure an ‘orderly handover’.  Chartered accountant Wilson has been with the group for five years in a variety of senior roles including finance director of Menzies Aviation.

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Pets at Home CFO scratched

11 Apr – Pets at Home has cancelled the appointment of new chief financial officer Graeme Jenkins ‘by mutual consent’ following an accounting probe at his previous employer.

On 4 April Jenkins was due to replace long-term CFO Ian Kellett, who was recently promoted to Chief Executive Officer by the group.

However, responding to reports that Jenkins’ former employers Target (owned by one of Australia’s largest public companies Wesfarmers) was launching an investigation into accounting irregularities, Pets at Home first postponed his start date then announced that he will not be joining the group.

Earlier this month Target CEO Stuart Machin announced his decision to resign from Target as the probe found $18m worth of deals that were made on the promise that Target would pay more later.

Mark Adams takes over as the group’s interim CFO. Adams has acted as interim CFO to Cognita Schools since February 2014 and has finance leadership experience from a number of businesses, including Hastings Insurance Group, easyJet plc, Helphire Group plc, Alpha Airports Group Plc and STA Travel Group.

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