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James Wates appointed Wates chairman as Drechsler plans 2013 exit

James Wates will replace Paul Drechsler as chairman of Wates Group this month, with Mr Drechsler also set to step down as chief executive of the firm at the end of 2013.

Mr Wates, who joined the firm in 1983 and the board in 1994, will be appointed non-executive chairman at the AGM on 30 April 2013.

In a statement, the firm said the Wates family had “always planned to return to a family chairman role”. It added that the move was “part of the long-term Wates Family Enterprise strategy.”

Mr Drechsler will step down from his role towards the end of the year, “ensuring continuity”.

He will continue to lead the company and support Mr Wates during the transition period while the search for his successor as CEO is carried out.

Mr Drechsler has been chief executive at the construction giant since 2004, having served as chairman and chief executive since April 2006.

Deputy chairman of John Lewis Partnership David Barclay and former Kier finance chief Deena Mattar are both joining the board as non-executive directors.

Mr Wates said: ​“Paul has made a huge difference to Wates in so many ways over the last 10 years. He has been a key component in ensuring that despite a challenging economic environment, we are well placed now and for the future.

“He has been working with me to ready me for the role of chairman and I’m delighted that he will continue to support me as we search for his successor as CEO.

“His values, enthusiasm, energy and dedication set the tone for our business and I know I speak for the family and for colleagues across Wates when I say that we will all miss his considerable qualities when he moves on.”

Mr Drechsler added: “When I started at Wates I was new to the world of family businesses and the construction industry; but I did know that I would be helping to write a new chapter for this unique business.

“It has been a privilege and an honour to have been chairman during the transition from the third to fourth generation of the Wates family. Wates Group is a great business with people that I like, respect and value.

“In Wates it is the people that make the difference.”

Wates held its turnover in 2012 but saw construction profits fall 48 per cent in the face of tough markets and a £4.9 million restructuring to combine its retail and fit-out divisions.

Mr Drechsler said at the time that there were no big operational changes planned for the company.

He said Wates’ long-term goal is to hand over a business of increased value and standing from one generation to the next, and highlighted a “strong, resilient balance sheet” with no debt, a large cash balance and assets.

 

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