Mr Slark, aged 45, was chief executive of BSS from 2006 until its takeover by Travis Perkins last month, a deal which netted him more than £1m. He was previously chief operating officer and managing director of BSS's largest operating division, plumbing trade supplies. He is credited with developing BSS into a leading player, opening more than 160 new outlets and completing several strategic acquisitions. He maintained revenue growth throughout the recession, strong profitability and cash generation, while maintaining or increasing the dividend.
He joins Grafton as chief executive designate on 1 April and takes over fully on 1 July. He succeeds Michael Chadwick , who moves from being executive chairman to non-executive chairman. Mr Chadwick has been at the helm since 1985 and had been looking to retire once a successor was found.
Grafton is an Irish company that trades in the UK under the Buildbase, Plumbase, Jackson and Selco brands. In Ireland it has the Heiton Buckley, Chadwicks and Macnaughton Blair brands.
Leo Martin, executive director and chief operating officer, was due to retire in August on reaching the age of 60 but has agreed to extend his contract until December to enable him to familiarise Mr Slark with the group's operations, particularly in Ireland. Mr Martin joined Grafton when it acquired Heiton in 2005.
Mr Chadwick said of his successor: "We are very pleased to appoint a group chief executive of the calibre of Gavin Slark. He has a depth of experience and proven track record as a CEO in our sector. He has indicated that his priority will be to keep Grafton focused on meeting the challenge of an uncertain economic climate while positioning the group for future growth. His experience complements that of our existing strong management team and I look forward to working with him in the continued development of the group."
Paying tribute to Mr Chadwick, senior independent director Roderick Ryan said: "Michael Chadwick's record has been outstanding by any standards. When he was appointed executive chairman in 1985, the group was a subsidiary of a multinational with sales of less than €60m, had negligible EPS and a share price the equivalent of 7 cents. Under his leadership Grafton has become a leading Irish quoted company, the market leader in its sector and has grown strongly internationally to become the third largest builders' merchant in the UK. The board is pleased that we will continue to have the benefit of his unique experience and knowledge of the business as non-executive chairman."