Fleetwood chairman to step down early, paving way for new leadership team and ‘fresh ideas’

Fleetwood chairman to step down early, paving way for new leadership team and ‘fresh ideas’

Fleetwood’s chairman is following its chief executive out of the company after suddenly disclosing departure plans.

Melbourne-based Phillip Campbell told Fleetwood’s virtual annual meeting today that he “was bringing forward my retirement” and leaving the builder and caravan accessories group early next year.

“In the normal course of events, I would be standing for re-election at the next annual meeting about this time in 2021,” Mr Campbell, chairman for the past four years, told shareholders.

However, “over the past year I have been in discussions with my colleagues about that matter as part of a normal and considered succession planning process and had informed them I would not be standing for re-election.

“Upon further reflection I have decided to bring forward my retirement to early 2021 and will be stepping down shortly after the release of our half-year results.

“A new chairman and new CEO will no doubt bring fresh ideas for how to extract the best value from what is a very solid business platform.”

Mr Campbell’s early departure is the latest in a number of sudden changes atop Fleetwood, which has been criticised for “a lack of accountability” by activist shareholder Sandon Capital.

On October 30, Fleetwood announced the resignation of chief executive Brad Denison as part of a plan to relocate its management team to the east coast to be closer to its manufacturing operations.

Then last week, it revealed it had accepted the nomination of John Klepec to its board after the Wellard boss was introduced to the company by Sandon, which is a also shareholder in Wellard.

Mr Campbell said today Fleetwood’s December-half profit was on track to at least match the $12.8 million before interest, tax and amortisation realised for the same period a year ago. That would better the $9.5m profit recorded for the June half-year, “thus completely reversing the trend we saw impact the business during the peak of the COVID-19 uncertainty and disruption,” Mr Campbell said.

The financial blow from the virus has been cushioned by the diversity of Fleetwood’s business.

While its biggest business, the modular accommodation unit, has been hurt by restrictions on building activity in Victoria and delayed government decisions in NSW, its Searipple accommodation village in Karratha has benefited from longer working rosters and demand for rooms from resources companies which have produced interrupted through the pandemic.

The Victorian-based caravan and recreational vehicles accessories business has also been hurt by that State’s lockdowns, but has rebounded strongly since last month and is expected to benefit from the uptick in Australian’s holidaying domestically.

Fleetwood shares were unchanged at $1.79 as at 11am.

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Author: Sean Smith
Published: 18 November 2020
Source: The West Australian