Chief executive and director of Coillte steps down from role

The Board of Coillte today (Tuesday, January 29) announced that Fergal Leamy has stepped down from the role of chief executive and director later this year.

After more than four years in the role, Leamy will take on a new position in the private sector in June 2019.

A statement from Coillte has revealed the process to find a new chief executive will commence in the coming weeks.

Current chief operations officer and chief financial officer, Gerry Britchfield, will assume the role of acting chief executive from April 2019.

Leamy will remain in Coillte until June to “ensure a smooth transition”.

Commenting on the announcement, Leamy said: “I am very proud of what we – as a team – have achieved over the last few years and will leave secure in the knowledge that we are in a stronger position than ever to capitalise on the opportunities in the timber and renewable-energy sectors.

I want to thank the board for the support, insight and challenge which they have provided to me and the management team over the past four years.

“The transformation and growth of Coillte has been driven by the motivation, commitment and dedication of our people and I want to thank the team for their hard work and support.

“We have just completed another very successful year in 2018 which has seen a step change in Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) from €85 million to €115 million, the result of our intense organisational restructuring and investment.

We also achieved a successful sale of our wind assets for €136 million which represented a five times return on our investment.

“Coillte has now achieved its strategic objective of achieving a 5% cash yield on its €1.4 billion asset base. The company is in a strong position and has an excellent team in place to lead it into the future.”

Commenting on the announcement, the acting chairperson of Coillte, Roisin Brennan, said: “Leamy has done an outstanding job over the past four years as Coillte has been transformed both operationally and financially under his leadership.”

Concluding, Brennan said: “The business is now generating significant and sustainable operating cash flows, is more customer focused and is increasing its return to the state as a shareholder.”

Minister’s response

In response to the announcement, Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture, Andrew Doyle stated: “Leamy has transformed Coillte during his tenure. He will be a huge loss.

“I wish him well in the next rung in his career path and I look forward to working with Gerry Britchfield who will take over from Mr. Leamy in April.”