Retailer faces uncertainty in key Christmas period
Wyevale Garden Centres chairman David Williams is to stand down as the retailer reels under a renewed assault from rebel shareholder Laxey.

Wyevale's board will cross swords with Laxey for the second time in three months at an EGM on December 22, after Laxey rejected a compromise proposal to end almost a year of open warfare between the two sides.

Williams will stand aside whatever the outcome of the EGM, at which Laxey will attempt to oust him and two other non-executive directors. Earlier this week, Wyevale told Laxey that, in the interests of shareholders, Williams would announce his intention to step aside and Laxey's favoured candidate as chairman, Robert Ware, could join the board as a non-executive director. However, the overture was rejected.

Williams said: 'This is an intolerable situation for our shareholders and everyone working hard to enhance Wyevale's prospects. Having offered my own resignation and Mr Ware's appointment, Laxey continues to insist upon an expensive and disruptive EGM.'

In a statement, Wyevale said: 'Despite the best efforts of the board and its advisers to avoid the cost and distraction of an EGM at the height of the Christmas trading season, the shareholder meeting will now proceed.'

According to Wyevale, Laxey had demanded that Williams step down immediately, 'Robert [Ware] be chairman in all but name' and that by next March Ware should be 'free to hire and fire executives as he sees fit with support of the board to carry through his strategy'.

Wyevale said Laxey's reponse showed the hedge fund 'is seeking to dictate the strategy and management of Wyevale without making an offer for the company. The position of Laxey and Mr Ware in seeking to impose executive control of the company is unacceptable.'

Williams concluded: 'In rejecting my proposed resignation and the entirely reasonable compromise offered by the board with heavy hearts, but in the best interests of all shareholders, Laxey and Mr Ware have, I believe, ignored the company's best interests.

'The board will now state its case to shareholders once again, as compelled by Laxey's resolutions and will continue to do everything in its power to prevent control of the company changing without an offer being made.'

Williams will remain in post until a successor is found.