MORE than £12m has been wiped off the value of Tyneside bakers Greggs after chief executive Ken McMeikan announced he was quitting the top job after four years.
Mr McMeikan, who joined the North East baker four years ago from supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, is taking over the reins as chief executive at catering supplier Brakes Group.
Shares in the company fell 3% following the announcement to the stock market, where Mr McMeikan is well-regarded by investors and analysts. Though they recovered slightly during the day, that fall wiped £12.6m from the value of the firm. Shares closed last night down 14p at 472.5p
Bosses last night started the search for Mr McMeikan’s replacement, but would not say how long it would take.
Mr McMeikan said: “It has been a great honour to lead Greggs since 2008.
“It is a wonderful company with fantastic people and I am enormously proud of all that we have achieved together. There are many exciting growth opportunities ahead for the business and the team are well placed to deliver them.”
Greggs chairman Derek Netherton said: “It was a surprise to us, but these things happen. As I understand it, he is going because his family are based in London and he’s finding it very difficult with the travelling.
“He has had an offer in terms of running a rather bigger company with interests in Europe. Personally and professionally, it was the right step for him.”
The process to recruit a new chief executive has already started but Mr Netherton could say how long it would take.
He said: “We will find the best person and Ken is on 12 months’ notice. We hope and he hopes it won’t take that long. Whoever it is might already be on a 12-month contract themselves.
“This will create a period of uncertainty and it would be better to be resolved sooner rather than later.
“Ken and the team are very clear that their concern is back on the Christmas trading and it’s business as usual. We are hoping that the process will be smooth.”
He said that Mr McMeikan had made a “valuable contribution” to Greggs.
“He has led the company through the major changes that have put us in a strong position for the future with a clear strategy for growth in a difficult environment. We wish Ken well in his new role,” said Mr Netherton.