Berry goes on grand tour as he takes chair at Weir

Charles Berry is the incoming chairman of Glasgow-based Weir. Picture: Robert Perry
Charles Berry is the incoming chairman of Glasgow-based Weir. Picture: Robert Perry
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CHARLES BERRY, incoming chairman of Glasgow-based Weir, is gearing up for a globe-trotting tour as he seeks to immerse himself in the operations of the FTSE 100 engineering group.

Speaking after the firm’s annual general meeting (AGM) in Glasgow where his appointment was confirmed, Berry said he had “weeks and weeks” of time blocked out in the coming year to visit Weir’s operations in places such as Africa, Australia, Malaysia, and North America. In total, Weir has a presence in some 70 countries.

“I will definitely get to all the main locations in 2013,” Berry said. “My first focus is to go and learn, and the only way you learn is to get out and about.”

As revealed by The Scotsman, Berry will take over from outgoing chairman Lord Robert Smith of Kelvin at the end of this year.

The announcement marks the end of the 11-year tenure of Smith, who is also chairman of the Green Investment Bank, energy provider SSE and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

“The load was getting a bit too much, plus there were also corporate responsibility issues to consider,” Smith said. “My feeling is that if you have been chief executive or chair at a company for ten or 12 years, then it is probably about time to go.”

Smith introduced his replacement to a group of some 30 shareholders at the AGM, highlighting his successor’s family links to Weir.

The incoming chairman’s late father, Tom Berry, worked for the group for many years until his retirement in 1979.

The younger Berry also did work experience at Weir’s training centre in Cathcart before going on to university in 1970.

Berry – who also chairs power station owner Drax Group – received overwhelming approval from shareholders at yesterday’s meeting, as did his fellow Weir directors. All resolutions were passed by a wide majority.

In conjunction with its AGM, Weir also released its first-quarter trading update, revealing a year-on-year drop in orders driven mainly by a decline in fracking activity in North America.

Despite this, Weir stuck with its profit guidance for the full year, saying that overall activity was likely to pick up in the second half.

Asked for further details, Weir chief executive Keith

Cochrane told shareholders that the “industry indigestion” that led to over-capacity in the North American fracking market was now unwinding.

“There is still a very high underlying activity level,”

Cochrane said.

Weir fell 48p to 2,156p after a drop in oil futures.