Mike Woolliscroft had been due to depart the business under the original merger plan

Housebuilder Vistry has changed plans and appointed the former interim joint boss of Countryside to the executive leadership team of the combined business.

The firm said in a statement to the city that it had decided to make Mike Woolliscroft group business improvement director and London divisional chair, despite previously saying that he would leave the business in May this year, once last November’s £1.1bn takeover of Countryside by Vistry had bedded in.

Mike Wooliscroft Vistry

Woolliscroft (pictured, left) was made interim joint chief executive of Countryside alongside Philip Chapman in May last year following the departure of former boss Iain McPherson in the wake of a major profit warning which triggered a year of turmoil at the partnerships housing builder. Prior to his promotion to the joint chief exec role, Woolliscroft was chief executive of Countryside’s partnerships south business.

Since the merger, Vistry has carried on with its housebuilding operations under its Vistry, Linden and Countryside brands, and combined all of the partnership housing operations of both groups under a new Countryside Partnerships brand.

Vistry said the decision to keep Woolliscroft meant he would take responsibility for the Countryside Partnerships business in London, reporting to the group boss of Countryside Partnerships, Stephen Teagle, and that he will also be responsible for business improvement and development objectives, reporting to the chief operating officer, Earl Sibley.

Vistry added that as part of the move Woolliscroft will also join the combined group’s executive leadership team. The announcement, made because Woolliscroft’s appointment marks a departure from assurances given to shareholders during the merger process, made no mention of Philip Chapman, who Vistry also said last year was due to leave the business this May.

Vistry said the change of plan “does not impact Vistry’s fundamental rationale for the Combination”, and group chief executive Greg Fitzgerald said: “Mike is a highly capable and respected leader in partnerships and urban regeneration and has a deep understanding of the Countryside Partnerships business. The Board and I are delighted that he is joining the Vistry Executive Leadership Team to help lead the business over the exciting years ahead.”

In January Vistry reported that forward sales numbers had soared as a result of the Countryside deal but that it had consciously slowed land buying in the wake of the slowing market.