New chairman for Wincanton

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Wincanton, which is under pressure from activist investor Gatemore, has appointed Martin Read, the former chief executive of IT group Logica, as chairman.

He takes over from interim chairman Stewart Oades on 1st August and will need to address the concerns of Gatemore, which hit the headlines in April when it called for the business to be split in two.

Wincanton currently operates through two divisions: Retail and Consumer and Industrial and Transport.

The Gatemore thesis is that these two divisions are not a natural fit. Retail and Consumer is predominantly open-book contracts, asset-light and lower-margin. Industrial and Transport is predominantly closed-book, asset-heavy and higher margin.

Gatemore reckons that by selling one of the divisions, Wincanton could be worth 88 per cent more that it is today. It would also enable the company to make substantial contributions to its defined benefit pension scheme which currently has a deficit of almost £70 million.

Gatemore has also criticised Wincanton’s management remuneration plan arguing that the policy is skewed towards the short term and not aligned properly with the long-term financial performance of the company.

Gatemore, which is led by Liad Meidar, is also the largest shareholder in DX Group and last year successfully opposed plans by the DX board to merge the business with Menzies Distribution.

Martin Read spent the first seven years of his career with Overseas Containers Ltd and had spells with Courtaulds and GEC Marconi before joining Logica. He is currently chairman of Laird plc and two government owned companies (the Low Carbon Contracts Company and the Electricity Settlements Company).

He said “Wincanton has a strong position in the UK and Ireland logistics market and a good reputation for serving its customers well. I am delighted to be joining the team and helping it to deliver the company’s significant potential.”

Oades, the former chief executive of Christian Salvesen, took on the role on a interim basis following the death of Steve Marshall in September last year. He will now resume his role as a non-executive director.

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