THE NEW boss of Mowlem has confirmed that his top priority is to restore the contractor's battered reputation after the reign of Sir John Gains finished on a loss-making low.
Sir John joined the company in 1966 and became chief executive nearly 10 years ago.
But his stint ended on a low note when the company posted its first pre-tax loss since 1995.
New chief executive Simon Vivian finished a fivemonth review of the business in January, a move which resulted in a series of write-downs and oneoff charges leading to a £15.3 million pre-tax loss.
He said: 'I am not a 30-year contracting man and have a different outlook.We have got to restore confidence and put the past behind us.'
Mr Vivian said he initiated the review because he wanted to see for himself the scale of Mowlem's financial problems.
And he admitted: 'Clearly I didn't anticipate having to deal with the issue to the extent I have when I joined.The figures are on a more prudent basis.'
He thanked Sir John for his efforts but said he would not have any future role at Mowlem when he departs next month.
Mr Vivian said: 'He won't have any connection in a management role. I'm not sure it's best practice for retiring chief executives to remain.From my point of view it's better he's not on the board going forward.'
Some analysts were less charitable and one said:
'There is no doubt if Gains had still been in charge the results would have looked better.Vivian looks to have cleared out the stable to a great extent.'
Outgoing finance director Gerry Brown, a Mowlem veteran of over 30 years, told an analysts' presentation that he didn't agree with last month's statement to the City that the problems stem from 'historical accounting issues' But one insider said Mr Brown and Sir John should take the blame for the losses. He said: 'Gains was hanging on and he didn't want to sort out the problems.He wanted to go out on a high and in the end the problems overwhelmed him.
'Everybody knew they were losing money and they weren't owning up to it.'