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Courtaulds Textiles links two top jobs

COURTAULDS Textiles is to combine the duties of chairman and chief executive, swimming against a tide in which companies have split responsibilities recently.

Martin Taylor, who used to be a journalist, will add the role of chairman to his duties as chief executive.

Mr Taylor rejected suggestions that the move contradicted the spirit of the Cadbury report into corporate governance. He said Cadbury placed emphasis on a strong non-executive presence on boards, but was ambivalent on the division of the top roles.

CT's board now has six executives and four non-executive directors. As part of the shake-up Pippa Wicks, formerly of the management consultants Bain, becomes finance director.

She joins a select band of female directors in big UK companies. However, Mr Taylor said her gender was 'the least important of her qualities'.

Sir Christopher Hogg has been chairman of Courtaulds Textiles and its twin chemicals company Courtaulds since the two were demerged three years ago. He will continue as a non-executive director of CT and as chairman of the chemicals company. He is also chairman of the information group Reuters, serves with SmithKline Beecham and is a director of the Bank of England.

The boardroom reshuffle accompanied news that CT lifted profit before tax to pounds 39m from pounds 20m. CT makes clothes, weaves fabric and spins yarn.

However, performance has been exaggerated by adoption of the new FRS3 accounting standard. Figures for 1991 were depressed by losses associated with discontinued operations.

Mr Taylor said trading was 'extremely tough'. Operating profit declined from pounds 51.7m to pounds 48.8m. Profit split by product shows a flat or declining performance.

British operations feature positively in a geographical breakdown because costs were slashed in the wake of restructuring undertaken in 1991.

Despite poorer trading profits earnings per share were lifted thanks to a lower interest charge. CT has reduced debt by 40 per cent and the interest charge dropped to pounds 6.6m from pounds 11.1m.

Earnings calculated by strict FRS3 standards were 30.1p compared with 11.2p. The company said underlying performance was better reflected, with figures 32.9p for 1992 and 31.5p for 1991.

CT shares, which have outperformed the market average by 80 per cent since the start of 1990, closed up 3p at 593p.