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BSM shares fall as chief executive goes

Shares in BSM Group, the market leader in driving schools, fell 9p to 164.5p yesterday after the group announced the departure of chief executive Paul Massey, who guided the group from a privately owned company through a buy-out to eventual flotation in 1993.

He was on a two-year contract and leaves with a pounds 350,000 compensation package, worth about 18 months of total earnings. He remains available as a consultant but will pursue other interests.

He has been replaced by Richard Glover, previously the managing director and in charge of day-to-day running of the business. Mr Massey's departure is the result of a review of the roles of chief executive and managing director over the last three months, a spokesman said.

The announcement coincided with publication of results for the year to December, which saw profits before exceptionals rise by 5.8 per cent to pounds 5.69m, much in line with market forecasts. After deducting for the compensation package, the pre-tax profit is down 2 per cent at pounds 5.27m. Earnings per share are unchanged at 14p but the dividend has gone up 10 per cent to 7.59p.

Turnover rose by 15 per cent to pounds 28m, of which just over 4 per cent came from acquisitions. The group now has 154 branches, an increase of six on the year, and 2,220 franchised instructors, an increase of 39. Market share has risen about 1 per cent to 16 per cent.

The group's business this year has been affected by the requirement on drivers to complete written tests before the practical tests.