THE co-founder of convenience chain McColl’s
has stepped down from the board and cashed in his remaining £33.6 million stake amid speculation that he is set to lead a rescue of grocery wholesaler Palmer & Harvey.
James Lancaster, who started the business – then a cigarette vending operation – more than 40 years ago, owned a 28 per cent stake worth £56 million when the company floated on the stock market three years ago.
Its shares have jumped from a listing price of 191p and Lancaster sold his remaining 10 per cent holding, or 11 million shares, at 295p.
Lancaster said: “It’s the right time for me to stand down. I have every confidence that under the stewardship of the board, McColl’s will continue to thrive.”
Lancaster has reportedly been sounded out by private equity group Carlyle, which is working on a takeover of Palmer & Harvey, to become the wholesaler’s non-executive chairman.
Cigarettes giant Imperial Brands said last week it was working with other stakeholders to “create a sustainable future for Palmer & Harvey, with whom we have a close trading relationship”.
Imperial and rival Japan Tobacco have already provided combined loans of about £60 million.
McColl’s declined to comment on Lancaster’s possible move.
, James Lancaster
, Palmer & Harvey
, Japan Tobacco