Leighton to Axe One-Third of Consignia Management?

07 May 2002

Allan Leighton, former chief executive of the Wal-Mart owned Asda supermarket chain and now chairman of Britain's post and parcels delivery operation Consignia, flaunted his management machismo during a national TV interview on Sunday by publicly threatening over thirty per cent of his senior management team with dismissal.

Leighton, who manages to shoehorn his fulltime executive duties for Consignia alongside a number of other directorships - which include chairing high street retail chain Bhs, etailer Lastminute.com and housebuilder Wilson Connolly - told BBC1’s Breakfast with Frost TV show: “I had 150 top managers together about a week ago and said to them that I expect some change, and the probability is a third of them wouldn’t be around in a year’s time, and that’s going to be a fact.”

Insiders are saying that their excision is less a matter of cost-saving than a cull of those resistant to change. Nor did Leighton have any words of comfort for his first lieutenant, Consignia chief executive John Roberts, whose head according to reports [WAMN: 03-May -02] is already on the block.

Asked if Roberts had his total confidence, Leighton pointedly ducked the question: “John is the chief executive of the business. He’s been there for a period of time and there’s been a lot of speculation, as there always is about leadership in these situations and you wouldn’t expect me to comment. And I wouldn’t comment positively or negatively on anybody.”

But there was a crumb of consolation for those sheltering within the Consignia bunker from the expected fallout of its worst ever result – to be announced later this month and reportedly in excess of £1 billion (€1.6bn; $1.5bn).

Consignia’s widely detested name, rebranded from the Post Office little more than a year ago amid much derision at a reported cost of £500,000 [WAMN: 10-Jan-01], is set to be abandoned within “a shorter time-frame” than two years, revealed Leighton.

Data sourced from: The Times (London); additional content by WARC staff