Bowkett to leave Berisford after seven years as chief

BERISFORD, THE Magnet kitchens and Welbilt ovens group, yesterday announced that its chief executive, Alan Bowkett, is to step down after more than seven years in charge. Mr Bowkett, who will be replaced by the head of the Magnet business, David Williams, is stepping down with immediate effect "to pursue opportunities in private equity".

Mr Bowkett, 48, built a reputation as a deal-maker in the late Eighties when he bought RHP Barings in Newark, Nottinghamshire for pounds 72m in 1987 and sold it three years later to Nippon Seiko for pounds 210m.

He was appointed chief executive of Berisford in 1992 when it was a near bankrupt conglomerate with interests ranging from commodities to property. He sold off most of the assets, reducing the company to a near shell before buying Magnet in 1994 and Welbilt a year later.

"I tend to work in five-year cycles so on that measure I've already stayed on two years too long," Mr Bowkett said, though he admitted that his departure had been delayed by a calamitous profits warning in 1996 caused by computer- system problems at Welbilt and a strike at a Magnet factory in Doncaster. "Things are stronger now the results are good. So the time is right to go."

Mr Bowkett is looking to raise around $1bn to fund a buy-out in the fragmented industrial products sector in Europe, Asia or America. He later plans to float the business in New York. He holds 2 million shares in Berisford worth pounds 5.1m and options worth another pounds 3m.

Analysts said the management changes could prompt a bid for the company which turned down an approach from an unnamed bidder in February. They also questioned whether chief operating officer Dennis Mulhall would stay on after being passed over for the top job.

The City was positive on the group's results, also announced yesterday, which showed pre-tax profits up 24 per cent to pounds 26.8m at the half year stage.

Berisford has been concentrating on developing Welbilt into a global player and it now ranks fourth in the food catering equipment sector where it specialises in ovens and grills for fast food chains like Burger King and McDonald's.

Welbilt's sales grew by 22 per cent, helped by acquisitions. Underlying profits rose by 6 per cent if acquisitions are excluded.

Magnet outperformed a declining kitchen market in the UK with first half sales up by 3 per cent and the average order size up by 7 per cent. Profits shot up by an astonishing 44 per cent to pounds 8.5m helped by better margins.

Looking forward, Magnet should benefit from a recovering housing market. Welbilt is hunting for deals in Europe, North America and Asia while the main US food service market is growing by 2 per cent a year.

At the group level the company is looking at a secondary listing in the United States where food service companies attract higher ratings. On full year profits forecast of pounds 63.5m the shares - up 7.5p at 256p yesterday - trade on a forward multiple of just 10. Still cheap, even after a strong recent rally.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Radamel Falcao
footballManchester United agree loan deal for Monaco striker Falcao
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Voices
A man shoots at targets depicting a portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin, in a shooting range in the center of the western Ukrainian city of Lviv
voicesIt's cowardice to pretend this is anything other than an invasion
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
News
i100
Life and Style
tech

Apple agrees deal with Visa on contactless payments

Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

SQL DBA/Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer SQL, C#, VBA, Data Warehousi...

.NET Developer

£650 per day: Harrington Starr: .NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM,...

Java/C++ Developer

£350 - £375 per day: Harrington Starr: Looking for a Java/C++ Developer to wor...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor