Institutions attack Wickes on 'leniency' to bosses report on bosses

Institutional investors in Wickes, the scandal-ridden DIY group, yesterday criticised the company's report, issued on Wednesday, on its profits over- statement, saying it dealt too lightly with the group's former directors.

They said it was "inconceivable" that the top directors had no knowledge of the matter. They also expressed concern over the deals struck between the company and the former directors which have led to Henry Sweetbaum, the former chairman, and Trefor Llewellyn, the former finance director, paying back bonus payments in return for the company taking no action against them.

One major shareholder said: "The top people must have known. Either they knew or they were incompetent. One has to ask, 'Are they fit to be directors of public companies?' "

The shareholder said: "I do have a concern over a deal being struck over the bonuses being repaid in return for the company agreeing not to make a claim [on the former directors]."

These concerns will fuel expectations that the Serious Fraud Office and the Department of Trade and Industry will launch investigations into the Wickes affair. "There is such a serious [profits] over-statement here that one would expect it," the shareholder said.

Wickes has admitted that the SFO and the DTI contacted the company in June when news of the profits scandal first broke. Yesterday both offices said they had not yet launched an inquiry.

With criticism of Wickes' non-executive directors also mounting, it is now expected that Sanford Kaplan and Sanford Sigoloff will resign from the board by the end of the year. Mr Kaplan is now 80 while Mr Sigoloff is 66. Both are based in the US and are colleagues of Mr Sweetbaum.

It is thought the City would be reluctant to subscribe to the planned rights issue unless replacement non-executives are recruited.

It also emerged yesterday that Wickes' stockbroker, SBC Warburg, suggested that Stuart Stradling should take over as chairman when Mr Sweetbaum resigned abruptly in June. Mr Stradling, a former Warburg director, succeeded Mr Llewellyn as finance director in August 1995 and resigned from the company earlier this month.

Wickes maintained yesterday that it had no knowledge of demands by suppliers to Hunter Timber, a former Wickes subsidiary, for repayment of rebates when the business was sold in September 1995. The report issued by Wickes said that "instances came to light" during 1995 that supplier rebates and contributions were being booked as profits earlier than was justified. The company declines to be more specific on when in 1995 these "instances" occurred.

Institutional investors said the jury was out on whether the planned rights issue would be able to go ahead. One said he would be worried if a trade buyer did not come forward before then. However, he added that if the offer was so low, then investors would probably prefer to subscribe to the issue. "We still believe it is a reasonable franchise. It has a lot of good sites and its market position is believable."

Potential trade buyers include Kingfisher, which owns the B&Q chain. However many of Wickes sites are too small or in locations unsuitable for a branch of B&Q. Trade buyers will want to see further details of Wickes' financial position before they go ahead.


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'

Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution

Review: Witty banalities aside, the comedian has an authentic voice

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £Competitive: SThree: SThree Group and have be...

Helpdesk Analyst

£23000 per annum + pension and 22 days holiday: Ashdown Group: An established ...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London