Reaction: Sir Brian Souter to step down as Stagecoach chairman

Sir Brian Souter is to retire as chairman at the end of this month. Picture: Robert Perry
Sir Brian Souter is to retire as chairman at the end of this month. Picture: Robert Perry
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Sir Brian Souter is to bow out as chairman of Stagecoach, the Perth-based transport giant that he co-founded in the early 1980s.

Souter’s sister and fellow founder, Dame Ann Gloag, is also set to step down from the board amid a series of changes unveiled by the group, as it posted results for the first half of its financial year.

Perth-headquartered Stagecoach is one of the biggest bus operators in the UK. Picture: Scott Louden

Perth-headquartered Stagecoach is one of the biggest bus operators in the UK. Picture: Scott Louden

Sir Brian, who will step down as chairman at the end of this month but continue on the board as a non-executive director from 1 January, said: “At the age of 65, the time is right for me to step down as Stagecoach chairman to spend time on my other interests and with my family, including my three young grandchildren.

“My family and I continue to have a significant shareholding in Stagecoach and I have every confidence in the management team, our strategy and the positive prospects of the business.

“I look forward to continuing to represent the interests of stakeholders as a non-executive director on the board.”

Non-executive director Ray O’Toole will take over the chairman’s role from the start of next month.

Transition

Deputy chairman and senior independent director Will Whitehorn is to support the transition of the chairmanship from Souter to O’Toole, the group added.

Whitehorn, who is best known for working at Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, is to step down from the board on 30 June, as previously announced. Stagecoach it to scrap the role of deputy chairman following the move.

Meanwhile, non-executive director Gregor Alexander will succeed Whitehorn from 1 July as the company’s senior independent director. Long-serving non-executive director Sir Ewan Brown is also retiring from the end of December.

O’Toole said: “The contributions of Sir Brian Souter and Dame Ann Gloag both to the public transport industry and to Stagecoach as co-founders, senior executives and directors cannot be overstated.

“The insight and wisdom of Sir Ewan Brown over his many years as a director of the company have also been key in its success.”

John Moore, senior investment manager at Brewin Dolphin, said: "A significant period of transition continues at Stagecoach with Sir Brian Souter’s decision to step down as chairman and the departure of Dame Ann Gloag, among a series of board changes.

"They have made invaluable contributions not only to Stagecoach as an individual company, but Scotland’s entrepreneurial and business community.

"Aside from the personnel changes, Stagecoach is in the process of re-balancing its business by focusing on core areas. While this has hit revenues and transformation programmes are almost invariably complex, the moves seem to be a step in the right direction given the wider transport environment.

"In summary, this is another resilient set of results from Stagecoach as it aims to re-group and build new foundations for future growth."

Results

The group reported adjusted revenues of £800.2 million for the half-year ended 26 October, down from a little over £1 billion a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, pre-tax profits reversed to £66.6m from £73.1m. The interim dividend was maintained at 3.8p.

Stagecoach described the results as “solid” saying they reflected “business initiatives” and the reduction in the scale of the group over the last 18 months.

Chief executive Martin Griffiths said: “We are at the forefront of industry-leading innovation in greener vehicles, autonomous technology, contactless travel, and app-based ticketing and information.”

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