Mark Rogerson.

Mark Rogerson.

Mark Rogerson has stepped down as CEO of UK rental company Speedy Hire after 18 months in the job.

Group finance director Russell Down replaces Mr Rogerson with immediate effect, while chairman Jan Åstrand takes up an executive role.

Mr Åstrand said: "I believe that Speedy remains a fundamentally good business but, whilst some progress has been made over the last year, the remedial action programmes have not been delivered as needed.

“Our immediate priority is to accelerate the execution of those programmes and realise the upside we believe they will deliver over the medium term. Additionally, we will increase our focus on the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) core hire market.

“Improving performance is our top priority.”

The departure of Mr Rogerson, who was appointed in January 2014, comes at a time when the company has warned of profits in 2016 being well below expectations but only weeks after Mr Åstrand praised him for the company’s “significant progress” in the 12 months to March 2015.

The company attributed the poor revenue performance since then to three factors: a lack of available equipment during the network optimisation programme; a focus on strategic accounts at the expense of SME customers, and poor customer service caused by disruption during the implementation of a new IT system.

Shares in Speedy Hire dropped by more than 30%, in the same week as another UK rental company, HSS Hire, suffered a 27% drop in its stock market value after reporting a worse than expected second quarter of 2015.

Speedy’s annual results, announced in May, showed a 7% rise in revenues and a 6% increase in group EBITDA.

At that time, the company was in a positive frame of mind with its exit from the Middle East general and spot hire market ahead of schedule allowing it to concentrate on its UK and Irish client base.

Announcing those results, Jan Åstrand said: “Shortly after he was appointed CEO, Mark Rogerson set out a clear plan to return the group to health and build sustainable profit growth.

“Mark and his new leadership team have made significant progress, and while there is much to do, there is further opportunity to improve the business.”

Perhaps prophetically, Mark Rogerson said at the same time: “The regional customer base is becoming an increasingly competitive arena, particularly in London and the south east of England.”

Speedy’s next trading update will be announced in September.

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