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Imperial Brands passes CEO crown to Inchcape's Stefan Bomhard

Bomhard has been in charge of car dealership group Inchcape for five years

Imperial Brands -

Imperial Brands PLC (LON:IMB) has poached Stefan Bomhard from car dealership group Inchcape PLC (LON:INCH) to be the tobacco giant’s new chief executive.

Current boss Alison Cooper will leave with immediate effect, having agreed to step down in October, with two of Imperial’s divisional directors sharing the CEO role until Bomhard gets started, with that date yet to be announced.

READ: Imperial Brands boss to step down

Bomhard has been at Inchcape for five years, expanding the business from its traditional forecourts model into a greater focus on distribution around the world, which has allowed for much higher profit margins.

The 52-year-old, who is currently a non-executive director of catering giant Compass, has previously led Bacardi's European region and global travel retail business, following stints as chief commercial officer of Cadbury and chief operating officer of Unilever’s European catering supplies arm.

After a big profit warning last autumn on the back of US vaping concerns, Imperial chair Thérèse Esperdy said Bomhard's initial priorities will be “to strengthen performance and enhance shareholder value”.

She also highlighted the new appointment's “track record of delivering successful transformational change” at Inchcape.

Analysts at Liberum agreed that Bomhard had led "transformation change" at Inchcape and "contributed to the cultural change", including disposing of a large business, "which may foreshadow Imperial's reopening of the disposal programme".

The FTSE 100-listed cigarette maker also announced that chief development officer Matthew Phillips has stepped down as a director with immediate effect.

At Inchcape, chairman Nigel Stein thanked Bomhard for his “transformational leadership”, including developing a “strong management team that will continue to drive the business forward following his departure”.

Imperial shares, having almost halved over the past three years, were drifting without clear direction on Monday at 1,942p.

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Price: 1536 GBX

Market Cap: £14.54 billion

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