A BURTON based pub giant has been left reeling after the shock resignation of its chief executive.
Roger Whiteside has quit the top job at Punch Taverns, based in Centrum 100, and will move to the same role at snack giant Greggs.
He leaves the firm just weeks after it was revealed that the company was in talks to restructure its £2.1 billion debt after releasing a set of poor financial results which showed that profits had dropped significantly.
Punch chairman Stephen Billingham said: “I would like to thank Roger for his significant contribution to the group over the last four years.
“Roger and the board have set out a clear operational plan to return the core estate to growth and maximise value from our non-core assets.
“The board wishes Roger every success in his new role.”
Mr Whiteside will leave the firm on Friday, February 1.
Stephen Billingham has been appointed as executive chairman and Neil Griffiths has been appointed as chief operating officer, with immediate effect.
Consequently, a new Chief Executive Officer will not be appointed at this time.
Mr Billingham added: “I am confident that with the appointment of Neil Griffiths as chief operating officer and with the experienced management team in place at Punch we will continue with the progress we are making in delivering on these key strategic goals.”
Mr Whiteside led the firm through a turbulent 18 months which started with the demerger with Sprit Pub Company in September 2010.
The latest set of financial results showed that profits had fallen from £76 million to £64 million last year and sales profits fell to £491.7 million, compared to £521.7 million in 2011.
The disappointing results were laid at the feet of the firm’s demerger as well as the wet summer.
The firm is in the process of selling off 1,600 under-performing pubs as well as reducing staff numbers.