Two directors go in NFC shake-up

RUSSELL HOTTEN

Gerry Murphy, the new chief executive of NFC, began his shake-up of the troubled transport group yesterday by announcing a worldwide reorganisation and the departure of two senior executives.

One of those to leave is Robbie Burns, the highly regarded head of the logistics division, who was involved in a much-publicised bust-up with NFC's former chief executive, Peter Sherlock.

Mr Murphy, who took over last month, yesterday underlined his determination to restructure NFC by re-shaping the group into three units covering the UK and Ireland, Continental Europe and North America. Each division will have a chief executive, reporting to Mr Murphy, and a seat on the NFC board.

Two separate, worldwide supervisory boards will be established for the logistics and moving services operations to promote branding, product development and procurement.

Mr Murphy said: "We have acted quickly to change the way NFC manages its operations. The new reporting structure is simpler, leaner and removes barriers inherent in the old structure."

It is unlikely to be the only radical change introduced under Mr Murphy's leadership. Last month NFC announced it was setting aside pounds 35m - on top of a pounds 21m provision earlier this year - to pay for restructuring. Loss-making operations will be closed and the branch network rationalised in a move likely to mean large job losses among the 33,000 employees, many of whom own shares in NFC.

A spokesman said yesterday that there was nothing to report on further restructuring. "We will just have to work our way through the business and see what happens," he said.

Under the changes announced yesterday, Terry Stockley, chief executive of BET's textile rental division since 1992, takes over as NFC's chief executive of the UK and Ireland from 17 July.

Graham Roberts is appointed chief executive of Continental Europe operations. He is currently chairman of Exel Logistics Europe, and has been an NFC director since 1989. A chief executive of NFC in North America has still to be announced. Bruce Edwards, currently chief operating officer, is appointed as chief executive of Exel Logistics North America. And Mike Fergus, currently chief operating officer, is appointed as chief executive officer of Allied Van Lines.

In a statement NFC said that as a result of the changes Denis Olliver, head of moving services worldwide, and Mr Burns, responsible for logistics in the UK and North America, had resigned as directors. There had been talk that Mr Burns was not pleased with being passed over for the chief executive's job.

NFC had lost its way in the past couple of years, and investors were keen to see the appointment of new blood from outside the company. Last month, NFC saw first-half profits fall to pounds 34.3m from pounds 50.5m.

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