Chairman survives Londis shake-up

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The Independent Online

Londis, the convenience store group that has put itself up for sale, overhauled its board of directors yesterday but was attacked by some shareholders for not going far enough.

The company, whose shareholders forced the management to abandon plans for a £40m recommended bid by rival Musgrave because it would have netted the executive directors a £20m windfall, has bolstered its board with five new independent non-executive directors, including a vice-chairman.

But it failed to replace Peter Williams, its chairman, who resisted shareholder calls to step down at a fraught annual meeting last month.

Four of the new appointees are Londis retailers and the fifth, Peter McNamara, is the former group managing director of Alliance and Leicester. They were chosen by KPMG, the accountancy firm charged with bringing Londis's corporate governance up to scratch.

Dave Fenwick, of the shareholders' action group, said: "It's a step in the right direction. But we are still not happy with the remaining three non-executive directors because they betrayed the trust of the whole membership."

Stephen Barrett, of KPMG, said all options about the group's future remained open, "from the status quo to an IPO [initial public offering]". He is planning a Londis roadshow around the country next month to update retailers on what progress KPMG has made in assessing whether or not the group should be sold.

The other new directors are Rick Bailey, a Gloucestershire-based store owner; Mike Howe, who owns a store in Devon; Rodney Braxton, whose five stores employ 90 staff; and Ramesh Shingadia, who resigned from the shareholders' action group to take up the post. They will be paid £5,150 a year.