Historic firm Victoria Carpets has seen its chairwoman ousted after a boardroom coup led by a group of shareholders, including one of the firm’s founding family members.
Katherine Innes Ker lost her battle to retain leadership of Victoria Carpets after more than two-thirds of shareholder votes – 69% – backed plans to remove her as chairwoman at a meeting held at the Hilton Metropole, at the NEC.
Alexander Anton, a former chairman and a member of the founding family, will now rejoin the board of the Kidderminster-based company as a non-executive director after winning investor support.
Geoff Wilding will become executive chairman and Andrew Harrison will join the company as non-executive director.
Mr Anton and Mr Wilding were among three directors who quit in August amid a row over performance and pay proposals.
Victoria Carpets employs around 700 people in the UK and Australia and is one of the UK’s oldest independent carpet makers, having been founded 117 years ago.
It supplies major retailers such as John Lewis and also exports to more than 40 markets worldwide.
But the group has seen trading hit by the poor consumer spending in its core markets and warned earlier this week that it only expected to break even in the half-year after tough economic conditions in the UK, Ireland and Australia.
Victoria said higher UK sales had been offset by sharp falls in Australia.
Its incoming directors believe the company’s strategy needs overhauling to improve performance and are proposing to grow the business in the UK and Australia, improve productivity and jettison under-performing assets.
But outgoing chairwoman Ms Innes Ker has claimed the boardroom bust-up centred on a bonus package proposed by Mr Anton and fellow directors that she said in August would see them "potentially receive a substantial share of returns made to shareholders".
Despite today’s vote, Ms Innes Ker said she had succeeded in ensuring the new board members would be "fully accountable for their actions and stewardship of the business to all shareholders".
The new chairman and directors are expected to work out a long-term incentive scheme with advisers.
Shares rose 4% after news of the boardroom overhaul.
Victoria Carpets was founded in 1895 in Victoria Street, Kirkcaldy, Scotland, before moving to Kidderminster in Worcestershire in 1905.