Wates chairman James Wates has told Construction News his former chief executive Andrew Davies “won’t go backwards” with his next job and that the firm was “tantalisingly close” to picking his successor.
“Andrew made a decision to move on,” he said, speaking to CN following the release of Wates’ accounts on Monday.
“He built a great executive team here, put in place a great strategy, but he wanted a new challenge.
“I think once you’ve made that decision [to leave], you don’t go backwards.”
Mr Wates added: “Last I heard he was enjoying walking the South Downs, but I have every confidence that Andrew will step up to a top job somewhere because he is very high-quality man.”
The chairman confirmed CN’s report that the firm expected to have chosen a new CEO by the end of April, and that a decision was “tantalisingly close”.
He also hailed the performance of Wates’ executive in the wake of Mr Davies’ departure.
Mr Wates said: “One thing I’m particularly proud of is how the executive team grabbed the ball and kept running with it when Andrew [Davies] decided to leave in November.
“I think that shows the strength in depth in the business.”
Mr Davies was scheduled to take over at Carillion on 22 January, but the company collapsed a week before he was due to start.
Chief financial officer David Allen stepped up to serve as interim CEO at Wates in Mr Davies’ place.
Yesterday the company reported a 6 per cent increase in turnover to £1.62bn, with the value of its order book jumping 42 per cent to £5.1bn.
However, the firm’s pre-tax profit remained flat at £32.8m.
Wates has a target of hitting £2bn turnover by 2020, but Mr Allen told CN that the firm would not pursue “growth at any cost”, adding that it would be happy to push the target back to 2022.
“It’s about the right kind of growth and profitable growth,” he said.