Fresh blood at Ross Group

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The Independent Online
Ross Group, the ailing consumer electronics company, is to get an injection of new management and new funds from the self-made entrepreneur Marcus Evans.

Mr Evans, owner of the private corporate entertainment group THG Worldwide, is subscribing £325,000 for a stake of just under 5 per cent in Ross and is assuming the role of chief executive. He is bringing with him as non- executive directors Thomas Melvin, currently head of taxation at British Gas, and David Powell, legal adviser to PA Consulting.

Tony Schofield, the finance director, and Roger Bampton are leaving the board, following in the footsteps of one of Ross's founders, Ross Marks, who resigned in November. Noel Hayes is staying on as non-executive chairman.

News of the shake-up pushed the shares up 0.25p to 4.25p yesterday, still a long way from a high of nearly 128p in 1990.

Ross has fallen on hard times since a spending spree in the three years up to 1992 saw it splash out £23m for a number of acquisitions which led to large losses.

During the past year, the company has dumped pallet manufacture, closed a car hi-fi business and sold a travel accessories company and a supplier of in-flight products.

Ross lost £2.45m in 1993 and further restructuring costs are expected to lead to substantial losses for 1994, when it reports results in the next two months.

Mr Evans has yet to decide what he is going to do with Ross, but one possibility is that he will reverse THG into the group. He has spent the past 12 years or so building up THG, which organises conferences and corporate entertaining .

Turnover is now thought to be around £20m, of which somewhat over half arises in the UK.