Tate & Lyle veteran takes the driving seat at Stobart

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A veteran of Britain’s boardrooms is to join the colourful company of Stobart Group. The haulier, famous for its red, white and green lorries, has appointed Tate & Lyle’s former chief executive Iain Ferguson as chairman.

Andrew Tinkler, the chief executive, has this year seen chairman Avril Palmer-Baunack, quit after just six weeks, and four directors resign in a year.

After Ms Palmer-Baunack’s departure, the City voiced concern that Mr Tinkler, whose first job in the 1970s was washing Eddie Stobart lorries before he succeeded with a construction business, then bought Stobart from its eponymous founder with his school friend William Stobart in 2004, has trouble work with other directors.

Neil Woodford, a fund manager at Stobart’s biggest backer Invesco, demanded Ms Palmer-Baunack be bought in to work on compliance. But after her departure, Mr Tinkler conceded the board needed another voice. Now Stobart will hope Mr Ferguson, who starts on 1 October, will help reverse its fortunes. The logistics firm was kicked out of the FTSE 250 in the spring, after a profits warning and a crash in the value of its shares.

Mr Ferguson is also chairman of the textile business Berendsen, and on the boards of Balfour Beatty and Greggs.

 Stobart conceded it will have to shell out for board pay-offs from its string of departures, flagging up “exceptional costs resulting from … the executive board changes earlier in the financial year.” Ms Palmer-Baunack was on a base salary of £394,504.

Stobart said its interim chairman Paul Orchard-Lisle and exchairman Rodney Baker Bates, who wants to retire, will step down from the board “in due course”.  Shares in Stobart fell 3.5p to 113p.