National Express chief quits after five months

National Express, the coach and rail group, yesterday blamed a clash of management styles for the departure of Ernest Patterson after just five months in the driving seat.

In a statement National Express said Mr Patterson, who joined in August after serving as a director of the BET conglomerate until its takeover by Rentokil last year, had relinquished his role as chief executive by "mutual agreement" with immediate effect.

But sources close to the company acknowledged that Mr Patterson's appointment had been a mistake. "Both sides felt it wasn't the right company for him," said one. "There were big cultural differences between BET and National Express."

Colin Child, finance director, said both parties agreed that Mr Patterson "was not suited to National Express and National Express was not suited to him". But Mr Child stressed: "There was no dispute at all; no fight or debate or difference of opinion on commercial or strategic issues at all."

Nevertheless, the resignation took insiders at the company and the stock market by surprise. "There was no hint of this," said a senior manager just below board level.

Shares in National Express were as low as 526.5p at one stage, but they recovered to close 3.5p lower at 540.5p in a rising stock market.

Mr Patterson, who has been replaced by Phil White, formerly director of the West Midlands Travel unit, was on a one-year contract which will be honoured in full. The size of his pay-off remains unclear because details of his salary were never made public. His predecessor, Ray McEnhill, was paid pounds 411,000 in 1995, up from pounds 327,000 in the previous year.

Mr Child said that "cultural style differences" had emerged between Mr Patterson and National Express. "The style and approach of a big group with a smaller, rapidly growing group is very different," he said.

National Express had a more devolved management structure than Mr Patterson was used to, Mr Child said.

Mr Patterson had been responsible for BET's world-wide transport interests, including road tankers, containers, warehousing and distribution.

Analysts believed his appointment heralded a subtle shift in focus away from the UK, where buying opportunities in the core bus and coach market were becoming increasingly hard to come by.

Instead Mr Patterson committed National Express to bidding for all 12 remaining rail franchises after landing the Gatwick Express and Midland Main Line licences. National Express is also interested in buying the Welcome Break motorway service stations from Granada, the media and leisure conglomerate. The coach group also owns East Midlands airport and is seeking links with airlines to provide dedicated airport services.

Mr White joined West Midlands Travel in 1994 and became a director of National Express in January 1996. He will continue to have day-to-day responsibility for WMT until the appointment of a new managing director at WMT.

In an update on trading,Michael Davies, the chairman, said: "Although the 1996 financial results are not yet available I can confirm that based on our latest estimates the group has traded well across all its divisions in the second half of 1996 and looks forward to 1997 with confidence."

The group remained committed to the expansion and development of its businesses and to acquisitions in existing and related areas, he said.

Sport
Romelu Lukaku
sportChelsea striker sends second teasing tweet of the day
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Sport
Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura sprays a line after calling for a free kick for Brazil
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

BA/PM,EMIR/Dodd-Frank,London,£450-650P/D

£450 - £650 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Senior Analyst - ALM Data - Banking - Halifax

£350 - £400 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Analyst, ALM Data, Halifax, ...

Java developer - Banking - London - Up to £600/day

£500 - £600 per day: Orgtel: Java developer - Banking - London - Up to £600/d...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

Will Gore: Outside Edge

The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns