Long-standing Midwich bosses Darren Lewitt and Alex Ward are stepping back from the business as part of an ownership restructure that sees the appointment of four new directors at the UK's largest specialist printer and audiovisual distributor.
Talking to CRN, Lewitt said he and Ward – who have been with the company for 23 and 31 years respectively – are selling their roughly 30 per cent stakes in the firm while it "is still climbing the mountain, not falling off it".
Both will move to part-time roles and most of their shareholdings have been redistributed to four new directors who will pick up the majority of their responsibilities. These are Stuart Mizon, Lee Baker, Tracey Perkins and Tom Sumner.
Managing director Stephen Fenby remains majority shareholder.
Lewitt, who joined Midwich (or Midwich Thame as it was then known) in 1991 after seven years in the RAF, said it was the right time to hand the baton to the next generation of leaders at the Diss-based distributor, which he claimed is on course to turn over £300m in 2014.
"I've spent the past 23 years eating, sleeping and breathing Midwich and felt it was time to realise some value in my shareholding, take a step back, and give some of the guys who have been working for me for the past 10 years a chance. I've seen so many people be unlucky or fail in business and it's great to get out while we're still climbing the mountain, not falling off it."
Lewitt will stay on board in a part-time capacity to help the distributor identify new technology areas but the majority of his duties on the audiovisual side of the business will now be handed to Baker (pictured right), who has been named divisional director.
Mizon (pictured below left), who has also been named divisional director, will take on the rump of Ward's responsibilities on the print side of the business. Perkins, who was previously credit services manager, has been elevated to the post of operations director, while Tom Sumner has been named as director of European business. Meanwhile, Jonny Francis will now head the vendor sales specialist teams across the entire business.
Lewitt, who became a director of Midwich in 2004 alongside Ward, Fenby and previous MD Nick Culley – who moved on in 2010 – reflected on what he had achieved during his two-decade stint at the distributor.
"I'm personally very proud of how the firm has gone from being a £10m distributor in need of a change in direction, to approaching £300m turnover. We're now in Europe's three major countries, which is what we planned to do seven to eight years ago, and have been in the Sunday Times Top Track250 list three times."
Lewitt said he would work three days a week for the next year or two, before evaluating whether or not to step away from Midwich entirely.
"The reason I decided to say on for a while is to ensure continuity for the business. I want to hang around until we can set up a business development structure to work on what I currently do to bring in new technologies," he explained.
In the longer term, Lewitt – who has retained a "small" shareholding in Midwich alongside Ward – said he is keen to "give something back", perhaps working with young people, although he refused to rule out using some of the proceeds of his sale for investments should the right opportunity arise.
In a statement, Stephen Fenby, managing director of Midwich, said: "I would like to thank Alex and Darren for their contribution to the development of the business over many years, and look forward to working with them in their new roles in the future. I am delighted with the promotions announced for Jonny, Lee, Stuart, Tom and Tracey and look forward to a new era at Midwich."
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