Cassidy quits on second profit warning

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The Independent Online
Denis Cassidy, who was ousted as chairman of Liberty last week, yesterday announced that he would resign as chairman of Ferguson International after the label manufacturer issued its second profit warning in six months.

The news rounds off a dreadful year for Mr Cassidy, during which all three companies he chairs have been in trouble. He lost his job at Liberty when a group of disgruntled shareholders called an extraordinary general meeting and voted him out. Meanwhile, shares in Oliver, the shoe retailer where Mr Cassidy has been chairman since 1992, have fallen by a third this year as the company has struggled with sluggish high street sales. Ferguson has also proved problematic. In July, chief executive David Watson resigned after less than a year in the job when the company said interim profits would fall below expectations.

Mr Cassidy said his decision to retire from Ferguson had nothing to do with the Liberty saga. "I'm a part-time chairman. I've had enough time to devote to Ferguson," he said, adding: "The chairman doesn't go around selling the labels. He manages the board."

Stephen Gutteridge, chief executive of Ferguson, said Mr Cassidy had been planning to stand down for some time. "Denis and I get on extremely well." He blamed the profit warning on a slowdown in the market and a lack of concern for customer care. He said the company had already announced 150 redundancies, and more would follow. Shares in Ferguson dropped 36p to 94p.

Mr Cassidy is unrepentant. "If you make a career out of becoming chairman of companies in some difficulty it would be surprising if everything ran like clockwork," he said. Nevertheless, recent experiences had not been pleasant. "The last three months has not been the most attractive period of my life."

Despite losing two directorships in two weeks, Mr Cassidy is not actively looking for new opportunities. "I don't go out and sell my services, people come and ask me," he said. Despite the upheavals of the past year, he did not feel his reputation had suffered.

Mr Cassidy has held numerous directorships. He was formerly on the board of Boddington's, the brewing group, and helped bring carpet retailer Kingsbury to the market in 1995 before standing down last year. When taking on a position at a company, he aims to stay for about five years. "Hopefully you go in and try to create an established board and then have a seamless transition."

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