Esken, formerly Stobart Group, confirms CEO Warwick Brady is leaving

Warwick Brady

Stobart Group, now named Esken, has announced its chief executive is leaving.

The Carlisle-based energy-to-airports business confirmed this morning that Warwick Brady has tendered his resignation and has accepted an offer to become chief executive of Swissport, the global aviation services business.

The Esken board has agreed that he will remain as its chief executive until the end of June at the latest.

This will provide sufficient time to ensure continuity and a smooth transition in leadership.

He will not be entitled to any payments other than his contractual entitlements for the period up to his leaving date.

David Shearer will assume the role of executive chairman on an interim basis with immediate effect.

His initial priority will be to review Esken’s strategic options as the company navigates the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of that exercise he will determine the leadership requirements for a new CEO to implement that strategy.

Esken owns two attractive core businesses: Stobart Energy, which supplies biomass fuel to renewable energy plants; and London Southend Airport. Both businesses have the potential to generate significant value for shareholders in a post COVID world, the company said.

David Shearer said: “I would like to thank Warwick for all of his efforts during his time as chief executive.

“He has led the transformation of Esken into an operationally focused business and was instrumental in establishing London Southend Airport as a key London airport asset.

“In the last 12 months he has dealt with the challenges which the business has experienced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The board wishes him well in his new role.

“All of Esken’s businesses benefit from strong experienced operational management teams with the capabilities required to take the business forward. I look forward to working with Lewis Girdwood, Nick Dilworth and all of our people and stakeholders as we navigate the recovery into the post-COVID period.”

Warwick Brady said: “It has been a privilege to lead this business over the past four years. I am grateful for the support of my highly dedicated and professional colleagues. Esken is a strong company with great people and I wish David and the team every success.”

Last June Swissport announced a savage jobs cull following the coronavirus pandemic, confirming that 4,000 of its 8,500-strong workforce would be axed. It recently completed a major financial restructuring which left it owned by a syndicate of global investment funds.

Mr Brady joined the Stobart Group in December 2016, and replaced former chief executive Andrew Tinkler when he stepped down to launch a new businesses investment arm the following year.

But a year later, in May 2018, a war of words broke out between the group and Mr Tinkler who opposed the re-election of chairman Iain Ferguson. This escalated into a legal battle between the group and Mr Tinkler which has rumbled on for more than two years.

Esken will announce a trading update for the year ending February 2021 in March.