Rebels force out entire board at Marchpole

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Marchpole, the menswear distributor, was left reeling yesterday after a dispute between its shareholders and directors prompted the resignations of all four board members.

The resignations culminated a 10-month campaign by a group of shareholders aiming to wrest control of the board. Michael Morris, a former chief executive of Marchpole, and Harold Tillman, the clothing entrepreneur, lead this group, which is thought to control about 43 per cent of the company.

Tony Caplin was immediately appointed as non-executive chairman. He said he intends to move Marchpole into the market for luxury-branded goods. Ian Gray and Adam Reynolds were appointed non-executive directors.

The outgoing board members were headed by John Gilliatt, who had been non-executive chairman of Marchpole since December, and Khosrow Tahmasebi, the chief executive, deputy chairman and finance director. Hilary Santell, product director, and Derek Boothman, a non-executive director, also resigned.

A source close to the company said while the existing management had turned the company around, "it did not feel it was in the other shareholders' interests to hold out".

"The shareholders were not going to back the [former] management's plans to grow the business in any case."

The resignations took place as Marchpole, which is a licencee of Yves St Laurent and Jasper Conran menswear, reported a 23 per cent increase in pre-tax profits for the full year to 13 March, to £2.8m from £2.3m.

Turnover fell from £29.6m to £26.7m. Marchpole's shares rose 2.5p to 17.75p yesterday.