Ian McAulay has stepped down as Viridor chief executive and from the board of parent company Pennon to pursue other opportunities.
Chief operating officer Phil Piddington has been promoted to managing director of Viridor with effect from today.
Piddington, who joined the company in 2014, will report to Pennon chief executive Chris Loughlin.
Viridor is not planning to appoint another chief executive. Its structure, headed by a managing director, now mirrors Pennon’s other major subsidiary South West Water.
In an announcement to his former staff, McAulay said: “It has been my pleasure to be at the helm of Viridor for the past three years and I’m very proud of the transformation that has been achieved in that time.
“We have evolved rapidly from a predominantly landfill company with a local focus to a sophisticated and centralised waste management, recycling and energy recovery firm, with an extensive UK asset base.
“Our £1.5bn investment in energy recovery facility assets has been particularly successful and, despite many challenges along the way, we have led the way in the UK in bringing these assets into operation.
“The contribution of these assets to the company’s future success has been underpinned by securing many long-term feedstock supply contracts. Together this has been transformative to earnings for the company.
“We have also made great progress in improving business performance in recycling even in very difficult economic conditions and again stand in a good place to go forward.
“I would like to take the opportunity to thank you all for helping to drive the business forward during my tenure to make Viridor one of the leading companies of its kind in the UK.
“We have created some great teams who are well placed to continue to deliver for the future. The combination of the talents that existed in the company together with excellent new hires attracted from some of the world’s most recognised companies has been powerful.
“The strategic foundations have been laid. Viridor is operating well and has the right team in place to continue to deliver business plan targets, continue to be a leading player in the sector and be a valuable part of the ongoing Pennon success story.
“I would like to wish you and the company every success in the future.”
Piddington (below) has almost two decades of experience in the energy industry, including senior management positions within the RWE Group and as managing director of BP Energy.
In addition to his Viridor responsibilities, he is also vice-president of the Combined Heat & Power Association in the UK and chairman of Cogen Europe.
Sir John Parker, Pennon non-executive chairman, said: “The board would like to thank Ian for his valuable contribution to the company and wishes him every success.
“Ian leaves Viridor on track to meet management expectations for 2016-17. We are delighted to welcome Phil as managing director of Viridor where his wealth of operational experience will be an asset to the company.
“I am pleased that the depth of talent within the group has resulted in our being able to fill this role from within the organisation.”
McAulay’s departure comes as something of a surprise. In an interview with MRW earlier this month, he told editor Robin Latchem: “I still get up every morning and want to go to work. We’re in a fascinating time for this sector, and I think the majority of people want to do it better.
”That’s a good place to be, and I can look my girls in the face and say I do a job that’s worthwhile. That’s a really good thing.”
He joined the company in 2013 from his previous post as chief of global strategy and corporate development with US water treatment company MWH Global.