SHAREHOLDERS AT Penrith livestock market in Cumbria are being asked to vote on whether to oust managing director Richard Morris, despite the firm‘s impressive trading results in the past year.

Penrith Farmers & Kidds, which operates the mart, recently announced pre-tax profits of over £597,000 in the year to August 2004, up £474,000 on the previous year.

Its performance was boosted by the disposal of the leasehold on an abattoir in Blackpool and the freehold on a mart in Stokesley, North Yorks.

The firm, which has offices in Penrith, Keswick, Appleby, Kirkby Stephen and London, also reported a £46,500 rise in turnover to more than £2m.

But a motion to remove managing director Richard Morris from the board will be put before shareholders at its annual general meeting on New Year‘s Eve.

Mr Morris, who has been a member of the board since 1984, is appealing to members to vote down the proposal, and the board is also recommending shareholders reject the motion, calling it “an unduly aggressive and disruptive move”.

Mr Morris declined to speculate on rebel shareholders‘ motives for their hostile manoeuvre.

“I don‘t really understand the reasons for this motion, except that there seem to be a lot of people these days who know that if you cause a commotion at a company sometimes you can end up with a situation – like the one recently at United Auctions – which you can exploit to your advantage.”