September 5, 2014 / 7:46 AM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-John Menzies hires ex-Serco exec as group CEO

(Adds analyst comments, details, share movement)

By Esha Vaish

Sept 5 (Reuters) - Scottish firm John Menzies Plc named former Serco unit head Jeremy Stafford as group chief executive, marking its first hire for the position in over seven years.

Stafford, who will assume office on Oct. 2, was most recently CEO of the UK and Europe units of British outsourcing firm Serco Group Plc, John Menzies said on Friday.

John Menzies has been looking to expand its aviation services business to shore up profits at a time when dwindling demand for publications has stymied growth at its distribution unit.

He has also worked at British Airways, the airline owned by International Consolidated Airlines Group.

“By the looks of it, his curriculum vitae looks certainly impressive. He’s got some aviation experience (and) he’s got some support services experience. So it seems like he ticks all boxes when it comes to the actual background,” said Karl Burns, an analyst at Panmure Gordon.

John Menzies has not had a group chief executive since 2007, and instead has been run by two managing directors, a finance director and a company secretary.

The company said last month that following the resignation of Craig Smyth, managing director of its aviation unit, it had decided to change its management structure and was searching for a group CEO.

“I think this structure will be more effective, particularly (in terms of) M&A and general sort of strategy,” analyst Burns said, adding that the management change would help the company move in the right direction.

John Menzies’ shares were flat at 615 pence in thin morning trade on the London Stock Exchange. (1 US dollar = 0.6126 British pound) (Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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