BusinessCompany NewsWetherspoons FD makes shock departure

Wetherspoons FD makes shock departure

City suspects clash with chairman over expansion plans caused sudden exit for JD Wetherspoon FD Keith Down and chief operating officer Paul Harbottle

Keith Down (left) with chief executive John Hutson

A surprise boardroom purge at pub chain JD Wetherspoon has seen finance
director Keith Down lose his job.

In a brief stock market statement, Wetherspoon’s announced that Down and
chief operating officer, Paul Harbottle, would be leaving the company “in due
course” and thanked both for their work over recent years.

City rumors are swirling over the reason for the move, with some analysts
suggesting that the two may have been pushed following a row over the company’s
plan to open pubs early in the morning for cooked breakfasts and coffee.

Down had built a reputation for cost control and stabilizing margins,
according to
The
Guardian
, whereas chairman Tim Martin’s aggressive expansion
plans would have risked significantly reducing margins.

Martins has denied that the departures were connected to “ham and eggs at
7am” but it has still caused concern in the City, where shares fell 16.7p
yesterday to 438p.

Meanwhile Stonegate Pub Company, which is currently without a head office
executive team, has denied rumours that it had poached the two departees
according to the
Morning
Advertiser
.

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