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Welsh Water CEO Jones to retire in March

Welsh Water chief executive Chris Jones has decided to retire from the company at the end of March 2020.

Jones has served as a director at Welsh Water for nearly 25 years and was a founder of the Glas Cymru not-for-profit ownership model.

Alastair Lyons, chair of the Glas board, also announced that Welsh Water managing director Peter Perry will take over as chief executive from 1 April 2020, having first joined the company as an apprentice.

In 2000, Jones, together with Nigel Annett, established Glas Cymru as a not-for-profit company with the sole purpose of acquiring Welsh Water. The following year, Glas successfully acquired Welsh Water from Western Power Distribution after raising £1.9 billion in long-term bonds – at the time the largest-ever sterling bond issue.

Glas’ not-for-profit ownership model is unique in the water sector, with any financial surplus being applied to benefit customers, in particular to invest in services and provide financial support for those who are struggling to pay their water bill.

In a message to colleagues at Welsh Water, Jones said: “After a lot of thought, I have decided that it will be the right time for me to retire as chief executive at the end of this financial year to pursue other interests.

"Whilst such a decision is never easy, I think this will also be the right time for the business, coming at the start of the next five-year regulatory period and with strong succession plans in place.

"I am proud of what we have achieved since Nigel Annett and I first launched our unique, not-for-profit company back in April 2000. We have created a clear corporate purpose and vision, with a strong and well-embedded culture of customer-led success. To date, customers have benefitted to the tune of around £450 million – money that in other companies would have gone to shareholders.

"I would like to give my most sincere thanks to all my colleagues for the great support that they have given me over the last six years. I am sure that the business will continue to do an even better job for its customers in the future, given the highly skilled and very committed people who work for Welsh Water. This could not have been better demonstrated than in the heroic response of my colleagues in the face of the unprecedented weather challenges throughout 2018 to maintain service to customers and to protect our environment."

Glas board chair Lyons added: "Few people can justifiably claim to have been instrumental in forging a unique business model and a culture that inspires those who work with, and are customers of the business. Glas owes Chris a great debt and he can be rightly proud to be chief executive of a company that has amongst the very highest levels of customer satisfaction and perception of value for money.

“We are equally extremely fortunate to have someone of Pete Perry’s experience and capability to succeed Chris when he retires next April. As chief operating officer and latterly managing director, Pete has worked alongside Chris whilst he was chief executive, enabling a seamless transition to take place ahead of our beginning AMP7, the next phase of our journey to deliver our Welsh Water 2050 vision.”

Perry will take over as chief executive on 1 April 2020, having been managing director since 2017, chief operating officer since 2013 and operations director since 2006.

He has a civil engineering background and was formerly the chief operating officer for United Utilities Operational Services (UUOS). Prior to joining UUOS, he worked for Welsh Water for over 20 years.

Speaking about his appointment, Perry said: "I am absolutely honoured to be taking on the role. It is a privilege to have the opportunity to build on Chris’ excellent work as CEO. We have a great team of people in the organisation and I look forward to leading the business to achieve our main priorities of further improving service to our customers and protecting the environment.

"With our unique ‘not for shareholder’ structure, which creates a business ethos entirely focused on serving our customers and communities, we are well placed to face up to the big challenges of the future such as climate change and meeting the increasing expectations of our customers.”

Author: Robin Hackett, editor, WWT
Tags: Dwr Cymru Welsh Water , New appointments

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