Auto supplier left reeling as CEO suddenly quits

Warwickshire automotive supplier, Autins Group, has been left reeling by the shock announcement that chief executive officer and principal architect of the group’s development, Jim Griffin is to quit the business.

His departure, which is with immediate effect, was announced to the London Stock Market this morning.

Officially, the company said the resignation was due to personal reasons.

However, the statement goes on to add that following a major customer’s decision to revise volumes, the board expected that revenues for the current year would be materially lower than market expectations.

The Rugby-based company, which manufactures specialist insulation materials predominantly for the automotive and rail sectors, counts Bentley, Jaguar Land Rover, Honda and VW Group amongst its customers.

Autins floated on the Alternative Investment Market in August last year. Its value at flotation was £37.1m with shares initially priced at 168p. However, within minutes of trading starting, the value had increased to 25% to 210p.

The company raised an initial £26.6m from institutional investors. New investors after flotation included Schroders (19.7% stake), Miton (14.5%) and Hargreave Hale (7.1%). Of the funds raised, £14m was used to pay down the group’s debt and invest in new equipment.

Share prices closed last night at 224p, however, the statement is likely to send the price plummeting this morning as investors look elsewhere.

The Autins board is currently evaluating the likely impact of the customer’s decision on the full year results to September 2018 and it said it would provide guidance at the time it publishes its preliminary results for 2016 on March 7. These are expected to be in line with market expectations and sales for the first quarter of the current financial year have also been in line with the board’s expectations.

In the meantime, it said its focus would be on finding a successor to Mr Griffin.

Mr Griffin originally joined the group in 1989. He led the management buyout of Autins in 2006 as managing director and under his leadership, the company set up sites in Germany and Sweden as well as two additional sites in the UK for manufacturing and research and development activity.

In 2012, he participated in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Program, was on the shortlist for the Guardian Small Business Leader of the Year in 2014 and was named EEF Manufacturing Champion for the Midlands in 2016. He was recently awarded a Visiting Industrial Fellowship by Aston Business School in recognition of his contribution in the area of business growth and entrepreneurship.