Torex calls in new boss for recovery

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The Independent Online

The beleaguered software developer Torex Retail has drafted in an IT turnaround specialist to address the company's problems.

Keith Taylor has been appointed as acting chief executive after the suspension of Neil Mitchell last week. Mr Mitchell has stated that he intends to return to the helm of the software developer after the Serious Fraud Office launched an investigation into the company. However, Mr Taylor said that despite the "acting" tag, he will be a "full-on chief executive" and has already started a thorough assessment of the company. He has also held "very constructive discussions with the company's banks" to reassure Torex Retail's lenders that it is not about to breach its banking covenants.

Mr Taylor said he intends to "change the culture of the company and bring stability to the business". He said that Torex Retail is a "fundamentally sound business that, like a lot of IT companies, has grown rapidly through acquisition".

Mr Taylor, who just completed a turnaround of the Worthing and Southlands NHS Trust, said he would focus on integrating the company's acquisitions after performing a similar task at Admiral, now part of LogicaCMG. Mr Taylor said Admiral was "a federation of businesses" when he joined the company, echoing the description of Torex Retail, which has spent £400m buying up 13 companies since 2004.

Torex shares have been suspended since late January when the company issued a profit warning and warned of higher debt, only eight days after it issued an upbeat trading statement. Chris Moore, chairman of the company, has also stepped down from his role.

While the London Stock Exchange and the FSA have launched investigations into potential market abuse, the SFO is understood to be investigating claims made by Mr Mitchell related to alleged incorrect treatment of transactions in Torex Retail's accounts.