Chairman replaced at Ellis & Everard

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ELLIS & EVERARD yesterday announced it had replaced Mike Marshall, executive chairman, as it reported a 28 per cent fall in pre-tax profits for the year to 30 April.

Simon Everard, non-executive chairman from 1982 to 1990, has resumed the role at the chemicals distributor. He said the board had yet to discuss whether to look for a new leader, but City analysts said it was likely Mr Everard would act only as a stop-gap and that the company would seek a new non- executive chairman.

Mr Everard said there had been a clash over management style between Mr Marshall and the board, but he would not reveal details. City speculation was that there had been disagreement over the direction in which Mr Marshall had taken the group.

Peter Wood, chief executive, said Mr Marshall had left the company on Friday. The shares fell 13p to close at 172p.

Jeremy Chantry, analyst at Kleinwort Benson, said: 'Mr Marshall seemed keen to shift the emphasis away from distribution into other areas, and it is those that have underperformed.'

Charles Lambert, at Smith New Court, said: 'The company is now moving back to its core business of distribution, after Mr Marshall made a lot of deals which took them away from that. I think there was ultimately a difference in philosophy.'

Ellis & Everard sold Midkem and Dimex, two performance chemicals companies, to Yule Catto in May, writing off pounds 9.5m as an extraordinary loss. It will include the loss on the sale of another business, Colt Chemicals, which the company is also trying to sell. A further pounds 1m in restructuring costs was taken above the line.

Mr Marshall joined the board when Ellis & Everard took over his Cargo Fleet Chemicals business in 1986. A spokeswoman for the company said his compensation package had still to be negotiated.

Turnover increased 7 per cent to pounds 383.4m and the company said it maintained market share in the UK and the US.

But Mr Everard said weak pricing levels and poor results from the performance chemicals and swimming pools divisions had hit profitability.

The group also had problems with its Spanish subsidiary, Preymer. Mr Everard said it continued to disappoint, although costs had been reduced and new distribution agreements had been signed.

Mr Chantry, at Kleinwort, described the results as 'pretty indifferent', but said he expected that this year would be rather better.

(Photograph omitted)