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Eddie Stobart chief stands down as firm suspends trading in shares

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EDDIE Stobart – the transport company behind controversial proposals for a £75 million national distribution centre at Appleton Thorn – has suspended trading in its shares.
Its chief executive, Alex Laffey – who only last month thanked members of Warrington’s development management committee for supporting the company’s proposals in the borough – has stood down with immediate effect and the firm has warned its results for the first half of 2019 will be “significantly lower” than forecast.
The company revealed a £2m error in its 2018 results last month.
A review of past accounts is being undertaken by chief financial officer, Anoop Kang, who joined the company in April, alongside external auditors. It has found that last year operating profits were overstated by about four per cent.
The developments are bound to fuel speculation locally that there could be implications for the firm’s ambitions on Green Belt land at Appleton Thorn, adjoining its existing head office.
A consortium of parish councils – the South Warrington Parish Councils Local Plan Working Group is considering seeking a judicial review of the borough council’s decision and has written to the Secretary of State, calling on him to “call in” the application.
In the meantime, publication of the firm’s results for the six months to May 31 – originally expected to be released on Thursday next week – are now expected Early next month.
The firm has warned that profits for the six-month period were likely to be revised down and that it is “applying a more prudent approach to revenue recognition”. The group’s dividend policy would also be reviewed.
Mr Laffey, who has been with Stobart for four years, is being replaced by Sebastien Desreumaux, who joined the company in July last year.
After councillors voted to support the company’s proposals he said: “We are proud to have our national headquarters in Warrington and are committed to support the ambitions Warrington Borough Council has for economic growth and job creation.”
Hundreds of people submitted objections to the Eddie Stobart proposals for Appleton Thorn which was also opposed by Warrington South MP Faisal Rashid.
There was fury when a member of the committee which approved the proposals admitted that he did not even know where the site was.

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