Goodyear to replace Read as Young's chief

Young & Co, the London brewer and pub operator, yesterday announced that its veteran chief executive, Patrick Read, would step down at the group's annual meeting. He will be replaced by Stephen Goodyear, the sales and marketing director.

Mr Read, 61, will retire in July, ending a 35-year tenure at the family-controlled brewer. His departure is unlikely to spark a change in the company's strategy, analysts said.

Mr Goodyear, 47, joined Young's in 1995 as sales director. He has been on the executive board since 1996. Before joining Young's, he spent 21 years at Courage, now part of Scottish & Newcastle, where he worked his way up to business unit director.

Mr Read delayed his departure beyond the company's official age of retirement for one year while a successor was sought. He will not receive a pay-off. Although yesterday's announcement sparked speculation that John Young, the group's 81-year-old chairman was also preparing to step down in favour of his son James, the deputy chairman, this was denied by a company insider.

If asked when he intends to retire, the ebullient Mr Young retorts that he is a "spring chicken relative to his 112-year-old grandmother". He has said he feels that he has "at least another 30 years in him", at previous shareholder meetings.

Young's last month made the first share repurchase under a scheme that would allow it to buy back up to 10 per cent of its stock. Analysts have suggested the move could lead to the simplification of the company's Byzantine share structure. The two-tier share system, through which the family controls the bulk of the voting B shares, receives an annual drubbing from Guinness Peat Group, the activist investors. But the company has denied that it intends to relinquish control by moving to a single class of share.

In the half-year to last September, Young's posted pre-tax profits before exceptionals of £4.7m, up just 0.3 per cent. It had sales of £55.4m.

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