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Mr Patterson, who has been replaced by Phil White, formerly director of the West Midlands Travel unit, was on a one-year contract which will be honoured in full.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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
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

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?