The managing director of historic firm Victoria Carpets has vowed to continue to fight against a group of shareholders who ousted him from the board at a heated AGM.
A bitter dispute has divided the 117-year-old Kidderminster firm along family lines, and its latest annual meeting saw both the UK and Australian managing directors stripped of their roles on the board – leaving the company with only two directors on its board.
The row surrounds the intentions of a consortium headed by Alexander Anton – the great-grandson of founder George Anton – who were backed by a large majority of voting shareholders at the meeting.
Managing director Alan Bullock has vowed to fight on against the group, as he remains in his post despite no longer being on the board, and claims he has written evidence they plan to break up and sell the business – which the consortium refutes.
He said Geoff Wilding, a member of the Anton consortium who plans to become an executive director, told him in a meeting documented in board minutes on July 5, later confirmed in writing, that the group’s strategy was to break up and sell the business.
The Post previously reported that the consortium had proposed plans incentivising the break-up of the firm and paying them half of any value created after shareholders received £3 per share.
Mr Anton, who said he has shown he has the backing of shareholders, said his strategy would not involve job losses and urged the firm’s chairman to appoint him and Mr Wilding to the board.
Mr Bullock said: “A couple of months ago Mr Wilding had a meeting with myself and the group finance director at which he underlined fully the strategy or the business and the strategy was a break-up strategy.”
He added: “He delivered that strategy to me along with my group finance director and it was at that point he said to me that if I wanted to be part of this incentive plan he would be happy for me to take part and he would give me a 10 per cent share, which he said the value would be something like £1 million.
“But this isn’t about money for me, it is about the principle.”
Mr Bullock said Mr Wilding revealed plans to first sell off the UK businesses – Victoria Carpets and Westwood Yarns in Yorkshire – before returning to sell the Australian operation.
Last week’s AGM actually left the firm with only chairman Katherine Innes Ker as a board member, before David Garman – who was ousted with the support of 80 per cent of shareholders – was brought back as a non-executive director. However, a special general meeting in October would see Mr Wilding, Mr Anton and Sir Bryan Nicholson, who resigned last month in a dispute over bonuses, re-elected if they continue to receive the same level of backing from shareholders.