Alan Flockhart, finance director at cider giant H P Bulmer, owner of the market-leading Strongbow and Woodpecker brands, has walked the plank after the discovery by auditors Deloitte & Touche of some £3.8 million ($5.99m; €6.06m) in undisclosed promotional expenditure. His abrupt departure follows that last month of the group’s ceo Mike Hughes.

Flockhart, occupant of the post for eight years, had allegedly been aware of these undisclosed costs “for several months”. This had wiped £2.9m in profits from last year’s fiscal and £0.9m for the year to April 26. The firm’s accounts are currently under revision and its annual meeting of shareholders postponed until the full situation is known.

Says Bulmer chairman Will Samuel: “The finance director is responsible for telling the board what’s happening and pointing out problems and Alan didn’t do that. He’s a nice guy but this was something I simply couldn’t tolerate.”

Samuel added that “to my knowledge” there had been no fraud by any member of staff although a number of ‘shortcomings’ had come to light. “We need to change some of the attitudes and pressures on people that exist,” he said.

It is not thought that the Bulmer family, which collectively holds 50% of the company, is considering the sale of its stake.

Data sourced from: Times Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff