Van Elle’s board­room bat­tle

The Sunday Telegraph - Money & Business - - Business - By Christo­pher Wil­liams and Alan Tovey

THE founder and for­mer chair­man of ground en­gi­neer Van Elle has launched an at­tempt to oust the chief ex­ec­u­tive and se­nior in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor.

Michael El­lis is seek­ing to re­turn to Van Elle’s board­room af­ter a dis­pute with chief ex­ec­u­tive Jon Fen­ton.

It is un­der­stood that Mr El­lis has con­cerns about the run­ning of the com­pany, and is wor­ried about de­par­tures of key staff. Mr El­lis has also raised con­cerns about Van Elle’s fi­nan­cial forecasts, which do not ap­pear to match in­ter­nal per­for­mance fig­ures seen by The Sun­day Tele­graph.

In at­tempt to wrest back con­trol of the busi­ness, Mr El­lis has writ­ten to the com­pany, re­quir­ing a gen­eral meet­ing so his plans for the man­age­ment shakeup can be voted on. As well as Mr Fen­ton be­ing re­moved, Mr El­lis also wants se­nior in­de­pen­dent di­rec­tor Robin Wil­liams to step down. Mr El­lis, who has a 6pc share­hold­ing in Van Elle but is un­der­stood to con­trol about 20pc of the com­pany, wants in­vestors to vote on him re­turn­ing as a di­rec­tor.

He has also pro­posed that Thomas Lindup, who stepped down in March with im­me­di­ate ef­fect from his role as group man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and com­pany sec­re­tary, be­comes a di­rec­tor.

Mr El­lis and his wife Joan set up Van Elle three decades ago and the firm has since grown to em­ploy more than 500 staff. Mr El­lis stepped down as chair­man last year, just weeks af­ter the firm listed on Aim, rais­ing £40m in a float that val­ued the com­pany at £80m.

Van Elle’s re­sults in July showed rev­enue up 11.8pc at £94.1m and Ebitda flat at £14.4m. A spokesman for Van Elle said: “We have not re­ceived any com­mu­ni­ca­tion from Mr El­lis and there­fore are un­able to com­ment.”

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