Former Manchester Airports Group CEO to be non-exec chair at Yorkshire steel firm

Charlie Cornish

Thirsk-based structural steel group, Severfield, has appointed Charlie Cornish as non-executive chair and director of the company.

Cornish, who is currently non-executive chair of Manchester Airports Group (MAG), Core Highways Group and Ipsum Group, will join Severfield’s Board on 1 May 2024.

He will take over as chair after the AGM on 30 July 2024 when Kevin Whiteman steps down from the Board, having completed his nine-year tenure.

Cornish was previously CEO of MAG for 13 years. He was also a main board member of United Utilities Group plc for seven years and managing director of its commercial business (called utility solutions).

Alun Griffiths, senior independent director, said: “We are pleased to welcome Charlie to the board of Severfield. His appointment follows a thorough selection process led by the group’s Nomination Committee.

“Charlie has an outstanding record of value creation, and he brings a wealth of experience to Severfield.”

 Cornish said: “It is a good time to be joining Severfield. The company is operating in markets with excellent long-term growth opportunities and has significant opportunities to continue to grow and develop.

“I am looking forward to working with the Board and the management team to maximise Severfield’s potential and continue to deliver value to all stakeholders.”

Alan Dunsmore, chief executive officer, added: “On behalf of the Board, and personally, I would like to thank Kevin for the enormous contribution he has made to Severfield.

“He has been an excellent chair, and he has played a crucial role in the successful development of the group. I also want to welcome Charlie to the group, I look forward to working with him.”

Severfield has also today issued a trading update for the year ended 30 March 2024, in which it confirms its intention to begin a share buyback programme to return £10m to shareholders.

The programme is designed to return surplus capital to shareholders and reduce the group’s share capital, while maintaining financial flexibility to enable the business to invest in delivering sustainable growth and attractive returns.

Severfield adds it has made good progress in the second half of the 2024 financial year and now expects to deliver a full year result which is slightly above previous expectations.

In the second half of the year, the group continued to secure a significant value of new work, resulting in a record UK and Europe order book of £511m as of 1 April 2024 (1 November 2023: £482m).

Of this total, £397m is for delivery over the next 12 months. Severfield says the order book remains well-diversified and contains a good mix of projects across the group’s key market sectors.

A spokesman for Severfield said: “The group is performing well, the outlook is positive and our businesses are well-positioned in markets with excellent long-term growth opportunities.

“Whilst there remains some uncertainty in the wider economy, we are seeing an improvement in market conditions which, together with our high-quality order books, diversified activities and operational delivery capabilities, provides us with confidence for the year ahead.”