Finance chief joins exodus at Isosceles

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BOB NELLIST, the finance director of Isosceles, has left the debt-laden Gateway supermarkets group midway through negotiations on restructuring its pounds 1.4bn of borrowings, writes Patrick Hosking.

His departure is the second senior change since the arrival of David Simons as chief executive on 4 January. Bryan Taker, personnel director of Gateway, left earlier this week.

Mr Nellist is understood to have cleared his desk last Thursday. It is not clear whether he has resigned, as compensation is still being negotiated.

Isosceles has frozen all interest and principal repayments on its pounds 1.1bn of senior debt until May. It is also rolling up interest on its mezzanine borrowings. It hopes to agree a debt-for-equity swap with its banks by April.

Because of the plan to merge the Isosceles and Gateway boards, Mr Nellist's successor is not clear. According to one source, Geoff Cooper, the Gateway finance director who was rumoured to be leaving, is 'very much part of the team'.

Morale at Gateway is low, though it beat its sales targets in Christmas week. Consultants at Coopers & Lybrand are advising on a recovery strategy.

Mr Simons, who was recruited from Storehouse, has replaced Mr Taker with Stan Frith, an old colleague when they both worked at House of Fraser. Last week, Mr Taker was in dispute with Gateway over the amount of his compensation.