Spring Ram appoints three new directors: Rooney survives as chief executive but fresh chairman is installed

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The Independent Online
SPRING RAM, the Yorkshire-based bathrooms and kitchens company, moved to restore some of its tattered credibility yesterday with three board appointments.

Bill Rooney, the company's founder chairman, has survived intense pressure for his resignation and is to stay on as chief executive.

But there are a new executive chairman, a replacement finance director and a second non-executive director. Roger Regan, chairman of the recently floated wallpaper company Fine Decor Group, comes in as chairman.

He said yesterday: 'I am not a company doctor. I am a trader who builds businesses. I have talked to Spring Ram customers and I am convinced the business is a sound one.'

Mr Regan has ordered a thorough review of Spring Ram's operating and financial position. He expects to give a full account of his plans for the company when it announces interim results - for the six months to June - on 22 September.

At his instigation Martin Towers, formerly finance director of the builder McCarthy & Stone, is appointed Spring Ram's top financial expert. He replaces Stuart Greenwood, who resigned in March after financial irregularities were discovered at a subsidiary.

Also on advice from Mr Regan the company has made Richard Fortin, formerly director of corporate finance at Lloyds merchant bank, its second non-executive director.

Mr Regan said Mr Fortin had been brought in to improve relations with institutional shareholders. Mr Regan acknowledged that shareholders had lost patience with Spring Ram in the past nine months, during which time the company published three profit warnings.

Panmure Gordon is the firm's stockbroker and NM Rothschild the merchant bank. Mr Regan did not criticise either adviser, but said he might make changes.

Mr Regan has replaced Spring Ram's public relations adviser, Square Mile, which was criticised three weeks ago for the way a price- sensitive statement was issued to journalists but not through the Stock Exchange's official news service, Topic.

The new board arrangement represents a compromise between Mr Rooney and some institutional shareholders. Mr Rooney accepted the need for change but wanted only to answer to a non-executive chairman. Several institutional shareholders thought he should leave the company altogether.

Mr Regan said: 'I have had a long chat with Bill. Obviously he will find it difficult (to share power) but after the hell he has been through in recent months he is relieved to find someone he can work with.'

He said the new directors' salaries had not been negotiated. But he added: 'We have been brought in not bought in. There will not be any fancy packages.' The shares, which were trading at more than 180p 18 months ago, fell 1.5p yesterday to 52.5p.

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