Just Eat on the lookout for new CEO
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Just Eat on the lookout for new CEO

Fast-growing online takeaway company Just Eat is looking for a new CEO. David Buttress, who has led the company admirably since 2013, has announced that he is standing down due to “urgent family matters”. While the company conducts its search, Just Eat’s chairman John Hughes, will step up and lead on an interim basis.

Over the last 12 months, Just Eat has returned 45% to investors

just eat graph

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Mr. Buttress released the following statement shortly after the news broke:

“It has been a great privilege to work alongside, and then lead, the exceptional team at Just Eat, helping to build the business from the very first restaurant in the UK to the company it is today. I would like to thank the board for their understanding, and I am very pleased that I will be able to continue to play a role in the future of the business as a non-executive director.”

Just Eat shares traded down on the news, reflecting the fact that Buttress is highly respected. Jefferies analyst David Reynolds described him as one of the UK’s “Stand out entrepreneurs of the last decade,” adding that he was “a rare CEO, one who has genuinely grown faster more fully than the Just Eat business he has led so capably, he is a profound loss to the business.”

Understandably, the company sought to reassure investors with a statement of its own, saying: “the board is commencing an immediate search to find a replacement for David. David has agreed to serve a minimum one-year term as a non-executive director.”

Hughes also offered reassurance, saying that the company is “very strongly positioned for the future.”

There is no doubt that Buttress will be missed as CEO, but investors should take heart that he remains accessible to management as a non-executive director. Additionally there is little doubt Hughes’ is right about the strength of the company’s position: prior to announcing his departure, Buttress was responsible for a spate of deals (including acquisitions of Hungryhouse.com and SkipTheDishes) that should set Just Eat up favourably against its competitors.

While none of this suggests that the transition to new leadership is without its challenges for the company, it does suggest that investors are reacting, perhaps, more hastily than is justified to the news.

Dominion holds Just Eat in its Global Trends Managed Fund.

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