Housebuilder appoints former Ferguson boss to board as David Howell stands down

Housebuilder Countryside has appointed the former boss of listed plumbing products supplier Ferguson Plc as its new chair.

The appointment of John Martin, chief executive of Ferguson for nine years until 2019, comes after Countryside’s existing chair, John Howell, decided to step down in the wake of the firm’s u-turn over demerging its housing and partnerships businesses.

In a statement to the city Countryside said John Martin will join the firm from today as non-exec chair designate, before assuming the role in full from April 30, when David Howell steps down.

Countryside_David Howell Chairman sitting1

Howell (pictured, left) announced his decision to stand down on December 3, on the same day the firm said it had yielded to pressure from activist investors to explore a sale of its previously core housebuilding business, in order to focus the firm entirely on partnerships housing.

Partnerships housing is the name for Countryside’s work to build homes on behalf of housing associations and local authorities.

Countryside said the accountant, former chief financial officer and private equity executive John Martin brought “extensive leadership and capital allocation experience in operations, finance, and capital markets”.

Douglas Hurt, Countryside’s senior independent director, thanked Howell for his contribution and said: “We are delighted to appoint someone of John’s calibre and experience. He has the skills and expertise to lead the Board, and a strong track record focused on growth, business transformation and value creation.”

John Martin, said Countryside was a “fantastic business” and he was “delighted” to join the board. He said: “I look forward to working with the Board and the Executive team to further develop the business as it continues to grow and deliver mixed-tenure housing across the UK through its differentiated business model.”

Countryside shareholder Browning West, which led the charge for Countryside to sell its housebuilding business and previously called on Howell to resign, welcomed the appointment of Martin. In a statement the firm, which has a 9.4% stake in Countryside, said: “Browning West is pleased that the board has executed on the search criteria that the firm defined last year, by appointing a chairman with experience as a CEO and a track record of value creation. Browning West looks forward to working constructively with Mr. Martin.”