John Menzies chief executive steps down in surprise move

Forsyth Black has left John Menzies after nearly two decades with the Edinburgh-based aviation services giant and having led it for the past three years.

Black leaves the business after nearly two decades. Picture: contributed.

Unveiling full-year results, Menzies said that Black had built “strong operations” including the revival of the distribution business prior to its sale last year and the transformation over the last three years of Menzies Aviation.

“Forsyth leaves us with our best wishes as he moves on to pursue the next stage of his career,” the firm added.

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In the interim Giles Wilson, who has been chief financial officer, will assume the position of interim chief executive.

Results showed that revenue was up marginally from £1.27 billion to £1.3bn while underlying operating profit for continuing business was up 8 per cent to £55.1 million on a constant currency basis. Underlying earnings per share for continuing business came in at 37.6p, up 20 per cent in constant currency terms.

Chairman Dermot Smurfit said: “I am pleased to report further progress with our aviation business.

“We continue to deliver against our excellence manifesto which will drive a differential between ourselves and others. Our industry is evolving and positioning ourselves as an airlines logistics services partner of choice will help us to grow our business.

“As I look forward I continue to see clear opportunities to sensibly grow. We have strong management teams and excellent systems and processes that will allow us to deliver service excellence and sustainable earnings growth.”

On the departure of Black, the chairman said: “We would like to thank Forsyth for his dedication to the group for the past 19 years and we wish him all the best for the future.

“Led by Giles, we are confident that the strong and experienced team we have in place will move the business forward in the short term. Simultaneously the board will immediately undertake a thorough search for a new CEO, both internally and externally.”

Alasdair Ronald, senior investment manager at Brewin Dolphin Scotland, said: “Despite headwinds, John Menzies’ performance is in line with expectations.”

However, shares were lower in morning trading.