The business on...Ian Coull, Chief executive, Segro

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The Independent Online

So Ian Coull has been paid a big compliment by the market?

Yes, on the day he announced his plans to step down from property company Segro, the shares duly fell, finishing down 2.8p at 296.65p. That suggests investors are sorry to see him going. Having the shares fall when you quit is about the biggest compliment the market can pay to a company boss.

What's he up to then?

Becoming chairman of another property-based company, Galliford Try. Mr Coull is 60 and says he always planned to step upstairs at that age. The demands on a chairman are somewhat lighter than those on a chief executive, so he ought to be able to spend more time with his three grandchildren. That and watching London Scottish rugby club, where he's a director and where he also played in his younger days.

Was he any good, then?

Well, he never achieved a full cap, but he did make several appearances for Scotland B, so he was no slouch. He can take a few knocks too, having played as a back-row forward. After their only season in the top flight of English rugby, London Scottish went into administration and were demoted nine leagues into the amateur ranks. But they have staged an impressive revival since, with six promotions in nine years.

Rugby players seem to do well in business, don't they?

Mr Coull says the game provided him with some useful skills for his business career: "It teaches loyalty, commitment, teamwork and leadership." Being a forward, of course, also prepares you for bruising encounters. Another useful business strength.

Has he always been a property man then?

Well, Mr Coull is a chartered surveyor by trade but he has also worked for Ladbrokes and Sainsbury's for several years. His responsibilities there included the supermaket's property portfolio, but Mr Coull says he did a lot more than that. "I spent 15 years at Sainsbury's and I had other responsibilities as well. My career has been broadly based."

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