Auctioneer in red

30 October 1998

Auctioneer in red

BOARDROOM battles and its first loss in more than 100 years of trading have hit one of the countrys biggest livestock auctioneers in the past week.

Carlisle-based Harrison and Hetherington has returned a loss of £144,000 in the 13 months to the end of June compared with a profit of £392,500 in the previous 12 months. The loss was after paying a final dividend of 12p per share making a total for the year of 20p.

Pre-tax profit on income of more than £4m was £131,700 compared with £948,500 in the previous period.

A board decision last week to accelerate diversification plans for the company led to managing director David Thomlinson being asked to resign and chairman Robert Weir also stepping down.

New chairman is Dennis Harrison who headed the firms estates department and is a great-grandson of founder Richard Harrison. He and company secretary and finance director Robert Jackson are handling the day-to-day running of the company while advertising for a new managing director.

"The board was not happy about the overall running of the company. We feel we need a managing director with skills in commerce and financial leasing," said Mr Harrison.

The firm established a motor finance subsidiary, Borderway Finance, in the past year and has plans to expand that business. Premises adjacent to the livestock market in Carlisle have also been acquired with a view to further diversification.

This week, farmers have rallied behind Mr Thomlinson, wearing stickers and stopping auctions to voice support for the former managing director who is also chairman of the Livestock Auctioneers Association.

Mr Harrison said he was saddened by the action. "They do not know all the facts and are showing a lack of trust in a company which has served their industry for more than 100 years. We are talking to Mr Thomlinson about another position within the company," he said. &#42

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