May 9, 2018 / 6:15 PM / 2 years ago

Rolls-Royce operations chief to leave in streamlining

FILE PHOTO: A Rolls-Royce logo is pictured on the company booth during the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (EBACE) at Cointrin airport in Geneva, Switzerland, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

(Reuters) - Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc (RR.L) Chief Operating Officer Simon Kirby will leave the company in June as the British manufacturer looks to streamline its business, it said in a memo to staff seen by Reuters.

“As we update our organization and move to more empowered business units with a much leaner center, it has become clear that we no longer need the Group Chief Operating Officer role for which Simon Kirby was recruited in autumn 2016,” Chief Executive Warren East said in the memo.

East has been trying to reshape Rolls during his three years in charge after declines in some of its older aero-engine programs and plunging demand for oil equipment.

As part of those efforts, East said Rolls also needs a smaller, more cost-effective headquarter in London and the company would be talking to employees at its current headquarter in Buckingham Gate about the options being considered.

Kirby joined the group in 2016 from British high-speed rail project HS2 to take up a newly created post and was tasked with a “group-wide transformation agenda.”

“I want to thank Simon for his huge contribution to reducing central costs as part of the transformation program, despite in doing so, working himself out of his own role,” East said.

Rolls, in a sign of East’s plan paying off, said in March it was on track to meet its goal of generating free cash flow of 1 billion pounds ($1.35 billion) by around 2020.

Rolls had also said it would continue with a cost-cutting strategy, after an earlier plan saved about 200 million pounds over the 2015-2017 period by reducing layers of management and shortening manufacturing times.

Reporting by Kate Holton in London; Writing by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; Editing by Mark Potter and Lisa Shumaker

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