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Wates appoints new chief executive

1 Feb 23 Wates Group has turned to outside the construction industry for its next chief executive.

Eoghan O’Lionaird has been on gardening leave since departing marine services group James Fisher last September.

Aged 56, he joins Wates on 20th February 2023.

Irishman Eoghan O’Lionaird had served three years as chief executive of James Fisher. Before that his CV shows periods with Spectris, Leica Microsystems (Danaher), Philips and Mitsui Kinzoku – broadly in the business of high-tech machinery and equipment.

Wates has been looking for a new chief executive since the departure of David Allen last July after four years in the post. David Allen became chief executive of Wates Group in April 2018. An accountant, he had joined the company as chief financial officer in 2016 and took over as CEO from Andrew Davies, who now heads Kier. David Allen joined Mace in December as chief financial officer.

Wates chief financial officer Philip Wainwright has been acting as interim CEO since Allen’s sudden departure. Wainwright returns as planned to his role as chief financial officer.

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Wates chairman Sir James Wates said:  “Eoghan is a globally accomplished, motivational leader with an impressive track record in industry and we’re very pleased to be welcoming him to Wates. We’re excited to appoint Eoghan to lead us into the next stage of our history.

Formner CEO David Allen, who O’Lionaird replaces
Formner CEO David Allen, who O’Lionaird replaces

“At the same time, on behalf of the board, I’d like to pay tribute to Philip Wainwright for the  great job he has done as interim chief executive over the past six months. He hands over a business which is in terrific shape, and with him working as chief financial officer alongside Eoghan, we are confident of the group’s continuing stability and success.”

Eoghan O’Lionaird said: “I’m delighted to be joining Wates and I’m really looking forward to working with everyone. What marks Wates out from the competition is how it has rallied its people around a purpose greater than profit alone. This is clear from its commitment to making the built environment more sustainable.  I’m looking forward to contributing to the Group’s strategy and marshalling the resources needed to achieve its ambitions.”

Born in Cork, Eoghan O’Lionaird holds degrees in engineering from University College Cork, and the University of Limerick, and an MBA from the Institute of Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne, Switzerland. He is married with two children and lives in Surrey.

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