* CEO to step down at the end of fiscal year
* Findlay has been CEO for 25 years
* Process to appoint successor underway (Adds details on outgoing CEO, analyst comment)
March 11 (Reuters) - British pub operator Marston’s said on Thursday Ralph Findlay intends to step down as its chief executive later this year, around two decades after he took the helm.
The brewer of Pedigree, Hobgoblin and Lancaster Bomber beer said Findlay will step down at the end of the financial year on Sept. 30 and a process to appoint his successor is underway.
His departure comes about a month after Marston’s rejected as too low a 666 million pound ($929 million) takeover proposal from U.S. private equity firm Platinum Equity Advisors.
“We expect the position to attract strong talent from both internal and external candidates,” Liberum analyst Anna Barnfather said, describing the timing of Findlay’s departure as “a natural stepping off point”.
Findlay, 60, steered the company through the COVID-19 pandemic which has battered the hospitality industry with repeated closures and led Marston’s to cut about 2,150 jobs.
The pub group, whose shares fell 41% in 2020, posted an annual loss last year before having to shut its pubs again under Britain’s third lockdown.
But the two-century-old brewer also embarked on deals during the period, including a joint venture with the British division of Danish brewer Carlsberg and a deal to operate 156 SA Brain pubs in Wales.
Liberum’s Barnfather said this positioned the pub business well to emerge from the current lockdown and rebuild trading.
Findlay joined the board in 1996 as finance director and assumed his duties as CEO in 2001. He is also a senior independent director at Vistry Group and a director of the British Beer and Pub Association.
$1 = 0.7167 pounds Reporting by Tanishaa Nadkar in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Edmund Blair