Days after Marcus Leaver's resignation as chief executive of illustrated publisher Quarto, the company's chief financial officer Carolyn Bresh has now resigned with immediate effect.
Bresh, who had been in the role for just over eight weeks, is being replaced by Mick Mousley in the role of interim chief financial officer. Mousley was previously Quarto's c.f.o. for 28 years from 1987 until he retired in 2015, only to be reappointed last month following a dramatic boardroom coup instigated by the publisher's founder Laurence Orbach.
The shareholder revolt saw Orbach and fellow shareholder Chuk Kin Lau of the Lion Rock printing company, who together own 47% of the publisher, reinstated on the board at the company's a.g.m., along with Lau's colleague Mei Lan Lam and Mousley. At the same time, four board directors were axed, including chaiman Peter Read and non-directors Leslie-Ann Reed, Jess Burley and Claire Capeci at the meeting.
Leaver resigned less than a week later, to be replaced by Lau as interim chief executive.
Following the a.g.m, one analyst at Edison Investment Research, Fiona Orford-Williams, commented she had been "very surprised" to see Mousley back on the scene. "Mick retired very gracefully about three years ago ... he was very much looking forward to being fully retired and had lots of plans so I am surprised to see him back. But it must be an expression of the concern that the business hasn’t gone to plan," she told The Bookseller the day after the boardroom coup.
The company had a £47m debt burden as of the end of 2017 and a market value of £23.5m, and the shareholder revolt was said to have been motivated by concern for the company's debt. An internal staff memo just prior to Leaver's announced departure further said the boardroom changes were the result of a poor financial year, with Orbach indicating that he wanted to take the business back to its co-edition roots.
Bresh, who resigned after being in the post only since April, said: "Quarto is an exciting place to work with both wonderful books and dedicated staff. I have decided to step down, following the change of control at the recent Annual Meeting. I wish Quarto every success in the future."
Orbach, now executive chairman, said: "I thank Carolyn for the professional manner in which she has conducted herself since the Annual Meeting three weeks ago and respect her decision. I am delighted that Mick Mousley, a widely respected figure, is able to resume the position for a while."
With Bresh’s departure, Quarto now has just one woman on its board. Previously, in summer 2017, it had celebrated reaching a 50/50 split.