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Retiring Armitt seeks one last challenge

COSTAIN CHIEF executive John Armitt said this week he was looking for one more major career challenge before retiring, after announcing his intention to resign.

'I have an open mind about what to do next, ' said Armitt, who is 55.

'But it's got to be worthwhile and it's got to be a challenge.'

Costain announced Armitt's decision to quit before unveiling his successor because news of his intentions had begun to spread through the company.

Costain is in talks with potential candidates, and Armitt will remain in his post until one is named.

He is credited with rescuing the contractor, which produced cumulative losses of £600M during the 1990s. He joined Costain in 1997 when the company's shares had been suspended for a year. Before Costain he was chief executive of Union Railways, then the promoter of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link. Before that he was a director of John Laing, where he was involved in formulating the winning bid for the Second Severn Crossing.

In 1998 Armitt was instrumental in putting together the rescue package for Costain. This resulted in Skanska taking a financial stake in the company and agreeing to joint venture on major projects.

He also turned Costain from a loss making £745M turnover a year contractor into a profitable company with a turnover of £381M.

Armitt said he felt he needed a new challenge before he retired, having brought stability to the group.

He added that his successor would be able to bring fresh enthusiasm and energy to the group as it went from recovery to growth.

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