Matthew Gregory takes up FirstGroup chief executive role

FirstGroup has finally decided on a replacement for Tim O’Toole as chief executive with the announcement of the appointment of Matthew Gregory who takes on the role with immediate effect. Gregory has been interim chief operating officer, in addition to his role as chief financial officer, with the operating divisions reporting directly to him since May 2018. Following this appointment, chairman Wolfhart Hauser will revert to his non-executive chairman role.

First has also announced that Steve Gunning has been appointed to the board as an independent non-executive director, with effect from 1 January 2019.

“Since his appointment as interim COO in May, Matthew has demonstrated the combination of strong leadership skills and strategic decisiveness, which has allowed us to make progress in a number of key areas,” says Hauser. “Having conducted a thorough selection process, which considered external and internal candidates, the board unanimously concluded that Matthew is the right person to take on the role of chief executive.

“Matthew’s comprehensive knowledge of the group, his experience in previous roles and leadership capabilities are precisely the qualities needed to drive the group’s value mobilisation strategy at pace, and I look forward to the group making further progress under Matthew’s leadership.

“I am also delighted to welcome Steve Gunning to the Board of FirstGroup as a non-executive director. Steve’s extensive financial and operational expertise, and knowledge from his senior roles at British Airways, one of the most important customer brands in transport, will be of immense value to the group.”

“It’s a great honour to lead FirstGroup and our 100,000 employees who are relied upon by millions of customers across the UK and North America each day. I believe we are now in a better position to make the most of our opportunities and create a stronger business for the future. I am committed to delivering on our plans to improve our offering, increasing ease and convenience for customers, and creating sustainable value for shareholders.”

Gregory joined First as CFO in December 2015 from Essentra, where he was group finance director for nearly three years, having previously been director of corporate development as well as performing a number of senior finance roles. His early career was spent at Rank Group and Ernst & Young.

Nick Chevis who is currently director of finance, will become interim CFO, with immediate effect. In this capacity he will attend the Board, but will not be appointed as an executive director. The process is underway to recruit a permanent CFO.

On appointment to the position of Chief Executive, Gregory will receive a base salary of £635,000 per annum and a pension contribution of 15 per cent of salary, plus annual bonus opportunity of 150 per cent and long-term incentive awards of 200 per cent.