McAlpine CEO departs after just eight months

Moving on - Tony Aikenhead is leaving McAlpine after just eight months.

Sir Robert McAlpine chief executive Tony Aikenhead is to step down from his role as chief executive at the end of July 2016 after just eight months in post. 

When he was appointed chief executive in November 2015 following a review of the management and governance of the business, his planned retirement date was said to be early 2018. According to the firm however, Aikenhead has completed the turnaround job he was hired to do and therefore the time was right for him to step aside.

In a statement, the company said: “His objective was the introduction of the improvement programmes that would transform the business and its future. Sir Robert McAlpine is again trading profitably with a robust structure in place and a strong order book. Having achieved his objective, Tony and Sir Robert McAlpine’s construction board have agreed that the time is right for him to hand on his board responsibilities.”

The company said that over the past eight months, following a thorough business review, it had instigated a major behavioural change programme to foster a culture of operational excellence and to focus the business around its new strategy of growth, diversification and resilience. 

This was already providing clients with better, and more tailored, service, said the company and Aitkenhead had played a key role in that. “Tony has overseen the introduction of new governance processes and revised risk management and tendering procedures,” the company statement continued. “These are having a significant and positive impact on company’s margins and performance with current contracts performing ahead of strategic objectives.”

Gavin McAlpine, non-executive chairman of the construction board at Sir Robert McAlpine, said: “We would like to thank Tony for his significant contribution to the business. He has seen the company through a major process of transition, which has moved us back into profit this year. His efforts, alongside the work of the construction board, means that the company is facing a very bright future with a strong order book for the coming years. We wish Tony well in his future endeavours”. 

A successor to Aikenhead has not yet been chosen but the company said that “the process of succession planning is well underway and Sir Robert McAlpine hopes to announce the appointment of a new chief executive in the coming months”.

Aikenhead was Sir Robert McAlpine’s first ever chief executive and the first non-family member to be given such a role at the firm. His appointment was part of a reorganisation of the company that saw it restructured into two divisions, building and civil engineering. It also saw the next generation of the McAlpine family come to the fore, with cousins Gavin, Hector and Edward taking over from their fathers.

The odds on another member of the McAlpine family taking over the reins at the top must be fairly short.

If you would like to contact Andy Walker about this, or any other story, please email