GORDON CAMPBELL NAMED CHIEF EXEC OF COURTAULDS
Byline: James Fallon
LONDON — Courtaulds PLC said Monday that Gordon Campbell, who oversaw the development and launch of its Tencel fiber, will become its chief executive, effective July 16, 1996.
He will succeed Sipko Huismans, who will retire from Courtaulds at the end of the company’s annual general meeting on that date. In addition, Sir Christopher Hogg, the company’s nonexecutive chairman, will retire then and will be succeeded by Sir David Lees, currently a nonexecutive director of the company.
Campbell, 49, currently is the company’s deputy ceo for operations. Prior to assuming this position, he was head of the group’s fibers and chemicals division. Campbell joined Courtaulds in 1968 and worked in junior executive positions in its fibers and yarns businesses before becoming production director at Courtaulds Acetate in 1976. He became that operation’s ceo after six years and moved to direct one of Courtaulds’ South African businesses in 1985. Two years later, he returned to London to oversee the company’s fibers and chemicals businesses and the introduction of Tencel, its rayon-like cellulosic.
Courtaulds believes Tencel, which currently is commercially produced only at its plant in Mobile, Ala., is vital to the long-term future of its fibers business. Huismans last month said Tencel will break even this year and move into the black in 1996.
“Its progress is now assured, and the sky’s the limit, depending on our ambition,” he said.
Analysts, however, are less sanguine about the near-term outlook for Tencel, pointing to its current high cost of $5,000 a metric ton, Courtaulds’ continued high capital-investment and marketing costs, and the arrival of a similar fiber from Lenzing of Austria. But Campbell’s appointment is a clear indication of the fiber’s importance, analysts said.
Courtaulds plans to open a second plant in Mobile early next year, followed by a third in Grimsby, England, in about 1998. It currently has a pilot plant for Tencel at Grimsby.
Huismans last month said the company expected to announce plans for a fourth Tencel facility, in the Far East, in 1996.
The retirement of Hogg, 59, had been expected for some time. He joined the company in 1968 and became chairman and ceo on Jan. 1, 1980. In that post, Hogg oversaw a substantial restructuring and repositioning of the company that culminated in the spinoff of its textiles, yarns and apparel operations into a separate group, Courtaulds Textiles PLC, in March 1990. He became nonexecutive chairman in August 1991.
The surprise in Monday’s announcement was the departure of Huismans, 54, who had been ceo since succeeding Hogg in 1991. Prior to that, he was group managing director and, from 1982, managing director of its Courtaulds Fibers business. Analysts suggested Huismans’ retirement stemmed from his failure to be named Courtaulds chairman. In a statement, however, he said Hogg’s departure seemed an appropriate time for him to retire as well, to make room for a new generation of management.
“When I took this job six years ago, first as managing director and then as chief executive, I said that seven years was the most anyone should spend on it,” Huismans said. “The main objectives I set myself — putting Tencel on the road to becoming a world-class fiber, developing a major presence in the Asia-Pacific region and rationalizing our fibers and coatings businesses in Europe and the USA — have all been set well on their way.”