Harmony Leisure in board shake-up

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The Independent Online
THE LEVER family's reign at Harmony Leisure has ended, just three months after the company agreed to make board changes to scupper plans by dissident shareholders to take control.

Stanley Lever has swapped his managing directorship for a non-executive post, while his son John, and Robert Dawson, acting chairman, have resigned from the hotels and pubs group.

Compensation for loss of office is being negotiated for John Lever, who was in charge of the company's two hotels. He has a three-year contract.

John Main, a director at Southend Property, which has a 4 per cent stake, becomes chairman and chief executive.

Harmony also warned of further losses and an impending rights issue, which it said would enable expansion.

Mr Main said, however, that the rights would not be used to repay Harmony's pounds 3m of debts.

The company is rethinking its previous policy of asset disposals, such as the recent pounds 1.2m sale of the Old Thameside Inn in London, to solve its debt problems.

'We will try to build an asset base,' Mr Main said. 'There are a number of properties about, and if it is looked at in a sensible way I think there are some interesting situations.'

Harmony said trading conditions had remained difficult since November's announcement of losses of pounds 344,000 for the half-year to September. The full year would show a 'significant loss'.

Andrew Martyr, who led the unsuccessful dissidents, said: 'Everything points to the fact that they have to clean the company up. We were right to ask questions about the management.'