New management in place at troubled Owners Abroad

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OWNERS Abroad, the holiday operator, has completed the reconfiguration of its board following the profits warning debacle, writes Robert Cole.

Former executives were ousted when they were obliged to warn on profits only four months after persuading shareholders to reject a pounds 300m takeover bid from rival tour operator, Airtours.

Owners has poached Michael Head, finance director of ladies' clothes maker and retailer, Jacques Vert. Mr Head was with the company for less than two years. He qualified as an accountant with Price Waterhouse and has served with the mining group Charter Consolidated and with Kingfisher, the retailer.

Mr Head chose a good day to leave. The textiles company published pre- tax interim profits that nearly doubled to pounds 949,000 from pounds 459,000. Ignoring one-off costs, operating profits rose 97 per cent to pounds 1.35m.

Jacques Vert has 23 high street shops selling middle-market women's clothes and another 58 concession stands in department stores. The expansion of concessions underpinned a 10 per cent increase in group turnover.

Earnings per share rose from 4.2p to 4.8p. The increase in earnings per share did not mirror the profits increase largely because Jacques Vert was hit by a property revaluation. The value of its properties was revised downwards by pounds 400,000. In addition to the direct impact on profits the revaluation was not allowable against tax, and so inflated the overall tax charge.