Directorate and Executive Changes
This announcement contains inside information
Connect Group PLC
("the Group" or "Connect Group")
Directorate and Executive Changes
Connect Group PLC, a leading specialist distributor, announced this morning in conjunction with our preliminary financial results that a strategic review of the Tuffnells business would take place. This review will inform the Board in determining the most appropriate structure and longer term strategy for Tuffnells, and more widely to consider its role and future in the Group. Separately, a number of directorate and executive changes have each taken effect, as follows:
Jozef (Jos) Opdeweegh, Chief Executive Officer
Chief Executive Officer, Jos Opdeweegh has stepped down from both his executive role and as a director of the Board with effect from 5 November 2019. Jos leaves with our best wishes and gratitude for his important contribution in shaping the Group's direction and operating structure. Many of the changes he has led position us well to meet our ambition in more closely aligning the Group's performance to shareholders' expectations.
Jonathan (Jon) Bunting, CEO Smiths News
In light of the change noted above, Jon Bunting (CEO, Smiths News), who joined Smiths News in 1994 and was appointed to the Board in 2010, has stepped up to become Interim Chief Executive Officer of the Group with effect from 5 November 2019. Jon has an unparalleled depth of knowledge and experience with the Group, and, in leading the Smiths News business for over a decade, has consistently delivered strong results in challenging markets. He is widely respected by our largest customers and suppliers and, having enjoyed recent experience as the Group's Chief Operating Officer (2017-2018) spanning both the Tuffnells and Smiths News businesses, he has relevant and extensive experience and the trust of our people across the Group in leading a programme of constructive change.
Given our announcement to conduct a strategic review of the Tuffnells business and its continuing role and fit within the Group, we will review Jon's interim appointment at the end of that process. Jon will also retain accountability as CEO of Smiths News through this interim period.
The strategic review of Tuffnells will consider all aspects of creating and optimising shareholder value. One of the vital components of this is business performance recovery. We are therefore making the following additional investment to support Peter Birks, CEO Tuffnells.
Michael Holt, Non-Executive Director
For the period of the strategic review process, Michael Holt has agreed to become Executive Chairman of Tuffnells with effect from 5 November 2019, with responsibility for providing relevant and current insight to aid both the broader strategic review and targeted profit recovery at Tuffnells.
Michael Holt joined the Board on 1 October 2018. In his time with the Group, he has demonstrated his deep experience and expertise in the logistics sector, with particular recent experience as former Chief Operating Officer of Fedex Express, Europe (from May 2016 to September 2018) and having also held a number of other senior executive roles with FedEx Corporation. Prior to that, Michael held senior executive roles at a number of leading logistics organisations including ANC Group, where he was instrumental in leading the turnaround of the business from a position of loss-making to industry leading margins and strong profit recovery.
In addition to this new temporary role, Michael will continue as a director of the Group and member of the Board albeit, for the duration of this additional role, he will temporarily relinquish being a member of each of the Audit, Remuneration and Nominations Committees. However, given the short term and specific nature of his interim role, the Board does not currently consider that it will permanently impair Michael's future independence in accordance with the UK Corporate Governance Code. Further details of the Group's compliance with the 2018 edition of the UK Corporate Governance Code for FY2020 will be reported in the 2020 Annual Report and Accounts.
Gary Kennedy, Chairman, commented on these directorate and executive changes:
"The Group has made significant progress against many of our recovery targets but has, unfortunately, fallen short in 2019 in our ambition for stakeholders. As we look to reinvigorate our recovery plans we have announced a strategic review of Tuffnells and some associated changes at executive and Board level.
On behalf of the Board I would like to recognise Jos's contribution during his tenure and wish him every success in the future.
We have a programme of immediate activity to progress in Tuffnells and the combination of clear priorities and additional support will ensure we maintain momentum. Our actions to address underperformance will take place in tandem with the overall strategic review process, which I will lead, keeping shareholder value firmly in our sights.
I am pleased that Jon Bunting is stepping up as interim Chief Executive and am certain that his clear leadership and unwavering dedication will serve the Group well as it pursues the clear opportunity for performance improvement."
Connect Group PLC
Jonathan Bunting, Interim Chief Executive Officer
Tony Grace, Chief Financial Officer
Buchanan (Financial PR)
Richard Oldworth / Jamie Hooper
Person responsible for arranging release of this announcement:
Stuart Marriner, General Counsel & Company Secretary
Connect Group PLC
Cherry Orchard North
email: [email protected]
About Connect Group
Connect Group PLC is a UK based specialist distributor and a leading provider of distribution solutions in complex and fragmented markets. The Group's networks are focused on serving high drop density early morning deliveries, and the demands of mixed and irregular sized freight.
The Group's core businesses are:
Smiths News is the UK's largest newspaper and magazine wholesaling business with an approximate 55 per cent market share. It distributes newspapers and magazines on behalf of the major national and regional publishers, delivering to approximately 25,500 customers across England and Wales on a daily basis. The speed of turnaround and density of Smiths News' coverage is critical to one of the UK's fastest physical supply chains.
Tuffnells is a leading distributor of mixed and irregular freight, serving small and medium sized enterprises across the UK. Its national network of depots collects and delivers mixed parcel freight consignments, specialising in items of irregular dimension and weight ("IDW"), examples of which include bulky furnishings, building materials and automotive parts. With a mix of local and national clients, Tuffnells offers a range of timed services that are responsive to customer demand.
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Quick facts: Connect Group
Market Cap: £85.83 m
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