Cassidy to step down after eight years at Boddington

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The Independent Online

Denis Cassidy, chairman of Boddington, the pub owner and drinks wholesaler, will step down at the end of May after eight years. He will be replaced by Boddington's chief executive, Hubert Reid.

At the same time, Boddington reported a 7.7 per cent increase in profit before tax to £30.2m for 1994, up from £28m after exceptional items in the previous year.

During Mr Cassidy's eight years at Boddington's helm he presided over important changes. He took the company out of brewing when he sold the Boddington brand name to Whitbread in 1988. Since then the company has become Britain's largest independent drinks wholesaler.

Mr Reid, 54, will in turn be replaced as managing director by Alan Smith, previously managing director of Kingfisher subsidiaries B&Q and Superdrug.

Boddington's pub division, which accounts for 41 per cent of group turnover, saw profits rise 7 per cent to £23.5m. The fastest-growing sector was the group's new leisure hotels division, which saw profits grow to £4m, up from £2.7m last year.

However, the drinks wholesaling business, which accounts for 53 per cent of the group's business, saw profits decline from £7.5m to £7.2m.

Mr Cassidy said: "Drinks wholesaling experienced turbulence due to the price war in a market which has substantial over-capacity. Given that, this has been a robust performance."

The company increased volumes in the drinks market by 15 per cent on the back of acquisitions during the year. It plans to increase the geographical spread of its wholesaling operation. Towards the end of the year the company acquired four wholesalers based in the North.

Mr Cassidy said: "I expect the broad economic conditions that prevailed in 1993 and 1994 to continue during the current year. We have invested very substantially in the last few years - £57m in pubs, leisure hotels and buying nursing homes. We expect to see that investment start paying off."

Although the company reported a profit before tax of £41.2m last year, this included a £14.6m gain on a disposal.