Kier is appointing Paul Sheffield as chief executive, to take over from John Dodds when he steps down in April after nearly four decades with the construction and engineering services group.
Mr Sheffield is currently the head of construction, infrastructure and overseas business. He joined the group as a graduate civil engineer in 1983, and by 2001 was appointed managing director of the construction business. He has been on the group's regional board since 2004 and group board since 2005.
Others understood to have been in the running for the top job include Ian Lawson, the head of Kier's support services businesses.
Recession has been hard for the construction sector, and in September Kier reported profits down by 61 per cent to £25m over the year to June on revenues down by 11 per cent. But the group has a future order book of £2.2bn for its construction business and £2.3bn for support services. The company was also hit with an £18m fine in September as part of an Office of Fair Trading investigation into bid-rigging.
Mr Dodds, the out-going chief executive, has been in the post since 2003. His long history with the company included membership of the management team that bought Kier out from Hanson in 1992. He said yesterday: "I've worked with Paul Sheffield for over 25 years and I am absolutely convinced that he is the right man to lead Kier into the future. Paul is highly talented and I look forward to working with him to ensure a seamless transition during the lead up to my retirement."
Phil White, the chairman of Kier, said: "We believe that Paul's experience, skills and intimate knowledge of the business provide a very firm foundation for building on the excellent work that John has achieved."