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Fri January 28 2022

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Countryside chief departs after trading downturn

13 Jan House-builder Countryside Properties has parted company with its chief executive after a period of disappointing trading.

Iain McPherson has stepped down with immediate effect
Iain McPherson has stepped down with immediate effect

The company’s announcement said that “by mutual agreement, CEO Iain McPherson is to step down with immediate effect”.

It said that trading in the first quarter of its financial year, which means the months October to December 2021 had been “below the board's expectations”. Adjusted revenue was down a third in the first quarter to £249.8m (2021 Q1: £363.8m). Net debt at 31st December 2021 was £72m.

Iain McPherson joined Countryside in 2014 as managing director of the Southern region of the house-building division. He was appointed chief executive of the Partnerships South division in November 2018 and group chief executive in January 2020.

While head-hunters seek a new chief executive for the company, non-executive chairman John Martin will stand in. He is an accountant who was chief executive of plumbing products supplier Ferguson for nine years. Mr Martin will conduct a review of developments to ensure that each site is being developed in accordance with company plans.

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John Martin said: “Iain McPherson has led Countryside through a challenging period, including the Covid pandemic and has clarified the group's strategy, which is to focus all of our resources on our market-leading Partnerships business. I would like to thank Iain for his unwavering commitment and dedication to Countryside as leader of our business in the South and subsequently as group CEO and to wish him every success in the future.”

Iain McPherson said: “It has been an honour to serve this great company. I have worked with many talented colleagues, and I expect them to drive the company from strength to strength.”

Countryside was listed on the London Stock Exchange from 1972 to 2005. It was bought by private equity firm Oaktree Capital Management from Lloyds Banking Group in 2013 and was re-listed in 2016.

One of its biggest shareholders is investment firm Browning West. Peter Lee, a Browning West partner, has now joined the Countryside board as a non-executive director. Browning West has agreed not to requisition (or propose resolutions at) general meetings, circulate statements to shareholders or seek to remove directors from the board.

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