Barratt, the UK’s biggest housebuilder, has said its chair John Allan will step down earlier than planned to avoid misconduct allegations against him – which he denies – becoming “disruptive” to the firm.
Allan, who is the former president of under-fire lobby group the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), will leave his post at the FTSE-100 firm at the end of June, three months earlier than planned. He has spent eight-and-a-half years as Barratt’s chair.
It comes after allegations of inappropriate conduct by Allan towards women, reported by The Guardian.
The alleged incidents relate to his previous role at the CBI and one allegation involving a senior staff member at Tesco, where he is also chair. He is stepping down from his role at the supermarket giant next month, Tesco announced last week.
Allan has denied three of the allegations and apologised over a fourth incident in which he admitted making a comment about a female CBI staff member’s appearance.
Barratt today said it had not received any complaints about Allan during his tenure at the company.
In a filing today, the company said: “The board believes it is in the best interests of Barratt to accelerate the planned transition to the new chair of the board to prevent the ongoing impact of the allegations against John from becoming disruptive to the company.”
Jock Lennox, a senior independent director at Barratt, said: “The board is grateful to John for his nine years of service to Barratt. He leaves the company in a strong financial and operational position, continuing to perform well in challenging market conditions.”
In a statement reported by the FT, Allan said: “My early departure from Barratt is a result of the anonymous and unsubstantiated allegations made against me, as reported in The Guardian which I vehemently deny.”
Investment banking veteran Caroline Silver is taking over as Barratt’s chair, having been announced as Allan’s replacement earlier this year.
Silver, previously chair of consumer goods giant PZ Cussons, will also join the housebuilder’s remuneration committee and nomination committee. She also sits on the board of Tesco as a non-executive director, having been appointed last October.