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26 Feb 2021 | 15:12

Universe Group chief executive to step down

(Sharecast News) - Retail management, payment and systems technology company Universe Group announced on Friday that its chief executive officer Jeremy Lewis had decided to leave the group to pursue other opportunities outside of the public markets. The AIM-traded firm said Lewis would remain with the group until 30 April, in a bid to ensure continuity in its delivery on a number of large customer projects, without losing focus on core retained customer relationships.

It said it was now in discussions regarding a successor to Jeremy, with further announcements to be made in due course.

An orderly handover of responsibilities would be assisted by Andrew Blazye adopting the position of executive chairman with immediate effect, the board said, with Ivan Brooks to take the newly-established position of chief operations officer on an interim basis.

Universe said Brooks would bring "considerable" relevant experience from having previously served as chief information officer for McDonald's UK and Countrywide, where he led the adoption and roll-out of new technologies and drove business efficiency initiatives.

"The board is very grateful to Jeremy for his excellent leadership - he has piloted us through some tricky market conditions, driven major product development, closed a significant acquisition, and won prestigious customer contracts," said Andrew Blazye.

"He leaves us in a much stronger position than previously and we wish him all the very best for his future endeavours.

"We continue to look forward to the future with cautious optimism and look forward to building on the platform that we have established and the great team that can drive the business onward."

Outgoing chief executive officer Jeremy Lewis added that after seven years, the company had now completed the integration of Celtech's retail management solution platform, following its acquisition in 2019, at the same time as navigating the challenges of Covid-19.

"Furthermore, our increasingly important payments business has also made excellent progress, winning new contracts that bode well for the future.

"I feel therefore that now is the right time to hand over the baton and so allow me to return to working with more early-stage software ventures.

"I have every confidence Universe will continue to thrive from here."

At 1036 GMT, shares in Universe Group were down 7.69% at 3p.
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