CEO departs

Soames steps down at outsourcer Serco

Rupert Soames: ‘outsourcing myself’

Rupert Soames is stepping down as chief executive of outsourcing company Serco after a turbulent eight years at the helm.

The 63-year-old, who is Sir Winston Churchill’s grandson, won plaudits for reviving the flagging company since he took over.

However, it has also drawn criticism over a range of operations, from technical and industrial relations issues with the Caledonian Sleeper trains to the profits it was making running the Test and Trace centres during the pandemic.

Confirming his decision to step down, Mr Soames said it was a ‘privilege’ to lead Serco and joked: “It is now time for me to outsource myself.”

Shares in the company fell 12.2p or 6.5%, to 168p after the announcement.

Mr Soames, a former CEO of Glasgow-based power generator Aggreko, will step down at the end of this year but will remain an adviser before retiring from the company in September 2023.

Serco employs 25,000 in the UK and 55,000 globally, operating in the US and Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and the Middle East as well as in mainland Europe. 

Its work in the UK includes transporting prisoners and running six prisons, as well as operating immigration detention centres and London’s cycle-hire scheme.

Mr Soames, who said he will not be taking another executive position, has been well remunerated during his time at the top, receiving more than £28. million and in line for £4.2million for this year if the company hits performance targets.

Serco chairman John Rishton said Mr Soames should be “really proud” of what he has achieved, adding: “Serco is unrecognisable from the business that he joined in 2014.

“Under his leadership, the business was stabilised, a clear strategy developed and executed, which has resulted in the strong and successful business it is today.”

Australian Mark Irwin, the head of Serco’s UK and Europe division, will take over as chief executive.

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