Stanley hit by casino chief's resignation

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The Independent Online

Stanley Leisure appointed a new finance director yesterday after the shock departure of the head of its casino division forced a shake-up of the board.

Stanley Leisure appointed a new finance director yesterday after the shock departure of the head of its casino division forced a shake-up of the board.

The gaming group said Paul Collis, who has been managing director of Stanley's casino arm for four years, left the company on Tuesday "by mutual consent". He does not have another position to go to.

Replacing Mr Collis is Michael Riddy, Stanley's current finance director. This has led to the appointment of Colin Child to take over from Mr Riddy. He was formerly finance director and chief operating officer at Fitness First until it was taken private in 2003. But he is a friend and former colleague of Bob Wiper, the chief executive of Stanley, from his time at National Express. Mr Wiper joined Stanley from the coach operator, where he was a divisional chief executive, in 1999. Mr Child was deputy chief executive and finance director of National Express from 1993 to 2001.

Mr Collis's exit comes as Stanley faces a major expansion of the casino industry. The Government plans to relax casino rules to make way for Las Vegas-style resorts that will contain slot machines offering jackpots of more than £1m. "Given that Stanley is supposed to be at a crucial period for strategic change in its gaming division, [the resignation] is odd," Paul Leyland, an analyst at Seymour Pierce, said yesterday. Stanley has already built a large Las Vegas-style casino in Birmingham, but some analysts have questioned whether it has overspent on the project while the new rules are still unclear.

It is understood that Stanley wanted a more experienced director to oversee its multimillion-pound investment programme for expansion. Stanley has also had a run of bad results in its London casinos. Big wins from high rollers caused profits to drop by £14m at its exclusive Crockfords venue, dragging down profits at the group.

Mr Collis earned £210,000 last year in salary and will be entitled to a pay-off equivalent to 12 months' pay.

It also emerged yesterday that London Clubs International had paid two of its top executives more than £300,000 for switching to a 12 months' notice period. Barry Hardy, the chief operating officer, and Roy Ramm, the compliance and security director, had been on 24 months' notice at the company, in breach of corporate governance guidelines. They have both reduced their pay-off entitlements to 12 months' pay. Mr Hardy was paid £184,000 in compensation for this and Mr Ramm, £128,000.

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