Mark Mitchell’s decision comes less than a year after Jeff Fairburn-led buyout of the firm by Berkeley de Veer

The chief executive of regional housebuilder Avant has left the business less than a year after it was taken over by a firm led by former Persimmon boss Jeff Fairburn.

Colin Lewis Mark Mitchell Avant

Mark Mitchell (left) pictured with Colin Lewis

Mark Mitchell is the latest senior figure at Avant to depart since its takeover by Yorkshire based SME builder Berkeley de Veer in April last year.

Jeff Fairburn had been appointed chief executive of Berkeley de Veer in January 2020, before going on to spearhead the Avant takeover, at which point Mark Mitchell was named Avant chief executive.

Mitchell’s departure follows the resignation of the former boss of Avant, Colin Lewis, in the immediate aftermath of the deal.

Lewis, who was initially named as deputy chair following the takeover, later told Housing Today that fears over a potential reduction in the design quality and specification of the homes built by Avant under its new ownership had prompted his departure.

Mark Mitchell had worked alongside Lewis in rebuilding Avant, formerly Gladedale, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, which had left it under the control of its bankers.

The Mail on Sunday last month reported that a number of other Avant directors have left the business since the Berkeley de Veer takeover.

Jeff Fairburn

Jeff Fairburn (pictured right) stepped down as chief executive from Persimmon following a row over a £75m performance bonus. His tenure at the firm also coincided with the housebuilder being accused of building poor quality homes, with a subsequent indiependent investigation finding the firm guilty of a “systemic nationwide” failure to install vital fire safety cavity barriers in its timber homes.

Following Colin Lewis’ departure, a spokesperson for Avant admitted the business had taken steps to alter its product range and standardise specifications, but rejected the idea that it was planning to reduce the quality of the product

Elliott Advisers, which backed the Berkeley de Veer takeover of Avant, is currently engaged in a tussle with Taylor Wimpey over the future direction of the business, and is attempting to get the listed housebuilder to consider appointing an external candidate to the role.

Fairburn has denied he is involved in any moves to install him as Taylor Wimpey chief exec.

A spokesperson for Avant said the Board accepted the resignation of Mark Mitchell “late last year” and that he will be leaving the business at the end of January.

Regarding reports of other director departures, the spokesperson said “a small number of colleagues” had left the business as part of the “natural turnover” in employees seen each year. They said these had been “successfully been replaced with a highly experienced team drawn from both within the Avant business and from across the wider house building sector”.

“The Board and the whole of the Avant team sincerely wish to thank Mark for over 21 years of service to the Group, and for his contribution under new ownership who acquired the business in April 2021. We wish him well for the future.

“The Avant team are excited for the future as we continue to build one of the UK’s leading housebuilders.”