Friday 24 November 2017

Easons in boardroom shake out

Tom Lyons

A big shake-up at the top of Eason, the iconic books to stationary retailer, took place last week when four new directors were voted on to the board.

Just over 70 per cent of Eason's shareholders backed Gordon Bolton, Andrew Walmsley, Graham Hall and Anthony Brabazon as new shareholder representatives on Eason's 10-person board, which is chaired by James Osborne.

Mr Osborne told shareholders in the run-up to last week's AGM that the company would like to introduce one new shareholder director. This level of representation rose in the last two weeks during negotiations when the four directors revealed they had about 70 per cent shareholder support.

Mr Bolton, a former managing director of Eason, and Mr Walmsley, a significant shareholder, had stepped down from the board less than two years ago.

Their return follows criticism of company strategy by both men in a letter to shareholders, which was also signed by four other ex-directors. The letter criticised Eason for trying to introduce changes to the rules that have governed the business since 1887, which the men said would have "dissipated" shareholder value.

Eason has counter-claimed that these changes were needed to modernise the business. Mr Osburne, a former chairman of Independent News & Media, the publisher of the Sunday Independent, welcomed the four new directors, which he said followed a "consultative process".

"This consensus is important as our board will continue to face challenges in the current market," he said.

Sunday Indo Business

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