PUBS group Mitchells & Butlers unveiled its fourth chief executive in three-and-a-half years yesterday, sending its shares to a six-month high.
M&B said it had hired Alistair Darby, chief operating officer at rival Marston’s, ending an 18-month search by the group.
Industry analysts said the share price rise was in the hope the appointment would usher in a period of stability after continual boardroom and investor unrest in recent years.
Darby has been on the board of Marston’s since February 2003, having also led its branded and suburban managed pubs arm, its beer division, and its tenanted pub company.
In his more than 20 years in the drinks and consumer sector, he has also worked with Mars, United Distillers and Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries.
Executive chairman Bob Ivell said the board of Mitchells & Butlers – whose chains include All Bar One, Harvester and Toby Carvery, and whose independent outlets include Deacon Brodie’s Tavern in Edinburgh – was “delighted” to have secured the right person for the role of chief executive, citing Darby’s “wealth of operational and brand experience”.
Darby said: “M&B is a market-leading business with tremendous potential that is well advanced on a transformation programme. I am excited by the opportunity to lead the company and, together with the management team, to build on M&B’s strong estate, brands and operations.”
M&B’s leading shareholder, Joe Lewis, the billionaire currency trader and owner of Tottenham Hotspur FC, made two rejected bid approaches for the group last year after leading a shareholder rebellion the year before that saw several board directors ousted.
M&B’s shares rose 10.2p, or 3.7 per cent, to 288.7p.
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