LONDON — Paul Munn, chief executive of Dawson International, has quit his post amid increasing losses at the Scottish cashmere maker and shareholder ire over his salary and bonus payments.
Munn had been with the company for more than 10 years, and came under fire from shareholders in April after he received a 29 percent pay rise after the company reported fresh losses.
Last year, Dawson’s losses increased to $13 million from $6.6 million as sales dropped to $97 million from $119 million. The company blamed the drop in sales on a slowdown in demand for luxury clothing brands due to a sluggish economy, the war in Iraq and fallout from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Munn’s salary rose to $355,000 from $276,500 during the period. His bonus payment remained unchanged from the year before at $137,460.
On Thursday, a spokesman for Dawson, which is the parent company of Ballantyne, told WWD that Munn left to pursue other business interests. “He spent a long time in the textile industry, and wanted to move on. This was not a surprise move,” the spokesman added.
He said Munn's position will not be filled at present, but that non-executive chairman Mike Hartley would become executive chairman. Hartley joined the company just six weeks ago.
Hartley replaced Ian Irvine, who quit as chairman of Dawson in a boardroom shakeup. At that time, four new directors were named: Alfredo Canessa, the chairman of Ballantyne Cashmere, Ross Burney, who represents the interests of Dawson’s main shareholder, Guinness Peat Group, and Lorenzo Astolfi, head of investment banking at Italy’s Abaxbank.
The Dawson spokesman said it was “too early to speculate” about any change in company strategy after Munn’s exit, but that Dawson was counting on Hartley for his brand, marketing and manufacturing skills. Hartley is well respected in the industry and led the successful turnaround of Viyella last year. In January, Viyella was sold to Richard Thompson of Riverhawk Investments.
The spokesman added that Dawson had also begun a hunt for a chief operating officer, in what would be a new position at the company.
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