Rolls-Royce CEO to stand down as firm returns to profit

Warren East

Warren East, the CEO of Derby manufacturing giant Rolls-Royce, is to step down at the end of the year after almost eight years at the helm of the firm.

Rolls says it will now launch a “thorough and extensive” search for his successor

The new comes as Rolls revealed it has turned a £3.1bn loss into a profit of £124m in 2021 after achieving its target of making huge cost savings a whole year early. Revenues dipped slightly from £11.5bn in 2020 to £11.2bn last year.

Rolls has axed 9,000 jobs over the last two years and sold four ancillary companies bringing in £2bn.

Speaking about his imminent departure, East said: “It is a privilege to lead Rolls-Royce – it’s a job which I thoroughly enjoy. There have been challenges, but we have built on the cultural and organisational improvements we have made to work through them, deliver on our commitments and create a better business.

“We have simplified the group, fundamentally improved our underlying operations and driven long-term change. Rolls-Royce is a dramatically different business today: a leading industrial technology company that is not only addressing the energy transition but embracing the opportunity it presents to generate substantial business growth, including through the creation and nurturing of new businesses with very significant potential. With the advances we have made, the momentum and energy we have shown and our firmer financial foundations, this is the right moment to look to the future.

“I am thoroughly committed to leading this business while we work towards a smooth leadership transition. The passion and skills of our people, the strength of our technologies and the depth of our relationships, give Rolls-Royce tremendous opportunities to pioneer the vital solutions our planet needs to create a net zero carbon future. This is the biggest technological shift for the group since the arrival of the jet engine.”

Anita Frew, chair, said: “Warren is an exceptional leader and has set a pioneering vision and strategic direction for Rolls-Royce to lead the transition to net zero across our markets. He has shown incredible tenacity, steering the group through unprecedented times, and driven substantial cultural change throughout the organisation. He has a real passion for the business which engenders pride in our people and confidence among our stakeholders. He has led Rolls-Royce to a point where we have substantially delivered on our recent commitments to investors and are now firmly set on the path to a more prosperous and sustainable future.

“We are now running an open and transparent process to find his successor and ensure a smooth transition. I know that during this time, Warren will continue to lead Rolls-Royce with all the dedication he has shown throughout his tenure.”

Rolls-Royce recently reached agreement with Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, to invest £85m in Rolls-Royce SMR.

Rolls-Royce SMR is building a new technology solution to deliver affordable, low carbon, nuclear power. The power station will occupy around one tenth of the size of a conventional nuclear generation site and power approximately one million homes.

QIA will join Rolls-Royce Group, BNF Resources UK and Exelon Generation as shareholders in Rolls-Royce SMR, taking a 10% share of the equity.