Speedy Hire has appointed a successor to long-serving chief executive Steve Corcoran, who stepped down in November after the discovery of accounting irregularities in its overseas operations.

Mark Rogerson, a former Serco and Costain executive who joined Speedy last month as chief operating officer, has taken the helm at the group with immediate effect.

He was widely seen as the frontrunner to replace Mr Corcoran, who had led the company since 2005 and oversaw its international expansion and a move towards services work on infrastructure projects rather than pure tool hire.

But Mr Corcoran also led the ill-timed acquisition of Hewden Tools for £115m in 2007, which led to a series of rights issues and left the group carrying a net debt equal to three times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in the deepest downturn in construction in decades.

The Merseyside group has since moved to cut costs, reducing its headcount and cutting the number of depots. The ratio of net debt to ebitda has come down to one.

With this appointment, Speedy has replaced a former Royal Engineer with a man who began his professional life as an RAF serviceman. Mr Rogerson then spent eight years with outsourcing group Serco, before joining construction group Costain as managing director of its natural resources division. He was awarded an MBE in 1998 for services to the public sector.

Speedy is in the next few weeks expected to detail the results of a Deloitte investigation into the international business – which accounts for about 5 per cent of the small-cap company’s revenues.

The company said in November that information had emerged of “the misstatement of a number of accounting balances within the international division over recent accounting periods”. As such, full-year pre-tax profit would be reduced by about £3m.

Paul Jones, an analyst at Panmure Gordon, said the fact that this was an internal appointment suggested there was unlikely to be further bad news after the profit warning. “The fact that he’s taken it suggests he is confident in the health of the underlying business,” said Mr Jones.

A person familiar with Mr Rogerson said he was “incredibly enthusiastic”. “This is a big chance for him. He’s run massive divisions before, but not at CEO level.”

Mr Rogerson is thought to be broadly supportive of Mr Corcoran’s strategy, particularly the decision to focus on larger corporate clients.

Shares in Speedy Hire fell 22 per cent on the day Mr Corcoran announced his resignation. They had recovered those losses by Friday’s close, on the back of at least three “buy” notes issued by brokers. But amid the wider market sell-off, shares fell 4.6 per cent on Monday to close at 62p.

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