Thursday 14 December 2017

Martin Naughton bows out after 40 years at the helm of Glen Dimplex

CEO Sean O’Driscoll is to succeed Martin Naughton as the president of Ireland’s largest private manufacturing company
CEO Sean O’Driscoll is to succeed Martin Naughton as the president of Ireland’s largest private manufacturing company
Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

MARTIN Naughton is to step down as president of Glen Dimplex, and will be replaced by group chief executive Sean O'Driscoll as part of a sweeping reorganisation at the top of the appliance and heater maker.

In a statement last night, Mr Naughton said he would leave the board of the company he founded more than 40 years ago, and hand the reigns to his long-time CEO.

Fergal Naughton succeeds Mr O'Driscoll as chief executive and Michael Maher becomes chief operating officer.

Martin McCourt, formerly of Dyson, joins the group as non-executive chairman and Neil Naughton will be deputy chairman.

Martin Naughton founded Glen Electric in 1973 and in 1977 acquired Dimplex, forming the Glen Dimplex Group.

Along with Lochlann Quinn - another well known Irish business figure - Mr Naughton built Glen Dimplex into Ireland's largest private manufacturing company.

Morphy Richards, Dimplex and Xpelair count among the group's many brands.

While white goods have become its hallmark, Glen Dimplex makes most of its impact through its heating business. The company describes itself as "the undisputed world leader in intelligent electric heating".

"On stepping down as president, I am pleased to say that the business is in great shape, with a clear strategy and strong performance," Mr Naughton said.

"I am particularly pleased that Sean is succeeding me as president and that Fergal and Michael are taking on new responsibilities. I also welcome Martin McCourt to our board as non-executive chairman.

"We have a high calibre team at Glen Dimplex which will drive its long term profitable growth and make our companies even more exceptional in the years ahead," he added.

As part of the reorganisation, the company has set up a new shareholder supervisory board, with Martin Naughton as its chairman. Glen Dimplex said this supervisory board will provide "clear strategic counsel and direction to the board with specific medium to long term performance objectives".

Mr O'Driscoll completes his rise to the top of the firm 26 years after he joined as group finance director.

He was named CEO in 2011. An accountant by training, he has become one of the most vocal figures in the Irish business community.

Mr Naughton has long been one of the most well known figures in Irish business, but unlike other successful companies, Glen Dimplex has shown little interest in listing itself on the stock market.

In 2003, Mr Naughton made plain that he had little appetite for turning the company into a PLC.

"I don't think I'd enjoy running a public company. We haven't needed to go to the market to fund expansion," he said.

The elevation of Mr Naughton's sons Fergal and Neil comes as little surprise. Both had been held senior positions within the group for years.

Mr Naughton has long said that he wouldn't force his children into the business.

"You can't run a business from beyond the grave," he said in 2003. "With the family, there are two criteria. They must want to do it, and they must be able to do it," he added.

While Mr Naughton is most widely associated with Glen Dimplex, along with Mr Quinn, he has had numerous investments elsewhere, most notably in property.

The pair were the key figures behind the five-star Merrion Hotel in central Dublin, while they have long backed top chef Patrick Guilbaud.

The pair were also among the first investors in the IFSC - something that has paid rich dividends. Last year they offloaded two blocks there - Harbourmaster One and George's Dock 5 - for an estimated profit of €40m.

Despite stepping down from Glen Dimplex, Mr Naughton won't disappear altogether from the company.

"I may visit from time to time," he said yesterday.

Irish Independent

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