Soames makes his mark on Serco with shake-up

Rupert Soames has acted quickly in wake of damaging scandals. Picture: AFP/Getty
Rupert Soames has acted quickly in wake of damaging scandals. Picture: AFP/Getty
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Rupert Soames, who took charge of Serco last month, has made an early move to stamp his authority on the outsourcing specialist with an overhaul of its overseas operations.

The former boss of Glasgow-based temporary power supplier Aggreko said the firm’s regional management office in Hong Kong is to close in a shake-up of its Africa, Middle East, Asia and Australasia (AMEAA) division, aimed at cutting costs and simplifying its structure.

The Middle East business, led by David Greer, and Mark Irwin’s Australia, New Zealand and Asia operation will report directly to Soames and his right-hand man, chief operating officer Ed Casey.

Current AMEAA boss David Campbell, who has already extended his service beyond his planned retirement date, will retire at the end of the year after more than two decades’ service.

Soames said: “This change will simplify the management structure, reduce cost and give our important growth markets in the Middle East and Australia greater visibility.

“I would like to thank the AMEAA executive team for their leadership and significant contribution to the group’s success.

“I would also like to wish David Campbell a long and happy retirement, and thank him for his contribution to Serco’s success over many years.”

Serco was last month named as the new operator of the Caledonian Sleeper, which is to be run separately from the main ScotRail franchise from April next year, and has pledged to spend millions of pounds upgrading the service.

The group was rocked last year when it was found to have overcharged the UK government on a contract to tag criminals – sparking a ban on new government work, the exit of its long-serving boss Chris Hyman and a slide in its market value.

Soames, a grandson of Winston Churchill, has pledged to reverse the “severe damage” caused by contract scandals and put “a spring in the step” of staff, but the firm expects 2014 adjusted operating profit to be “no less than £170m”, as much as 32 per cent below March guidance of £220m to £250m.