Ellies’s turnaround specialist has been named interim joint CEO alongside chairman Ellies Salkow as the group digs itself out of a four-year decline.

Adrian Bock, who joined the electronics company about 18 months ago as its chief financial officer, will continue in that role while in the post of joint CEO under a dispensation granted by the JSE.

Former CEO Wayne Samson, who presided over a spectacular collapse in the Ellies share price, resigned last week to pursue other interests.

According to the company, Bock’s dual role will not extend beyond April 30 2018 and Bock said that it was "very clear [that] in order to have authority to carry on the turnaround strategy it’s preferable the title changes to reflect that".

But whether he is to take over permanently will probably be decided only at a board meeting in early December.

Bock describes himself as the person "involved in checks and balances and implementation" while Salkow, who owns 19.49% of Ellies in his personal capacity "is the market-facing and growth person".

Bock said that the Ellies turnaround — the company expects to report first-half headline earnings per share of between 2c and 4c, against last year’s headline loss of 11.3c — had "largely yielded the results that we wanted".

Under Bock, Ellies has centralised many of its shared services, eliminating "a lot of duplicated costs". The process has resulted in about 200 staff being cut from the company. "The whole back office and middle office has been centralised," said Bock, "so ultimately you have a much reduced and much more efficient team."

Ellies was almost sunk by debt, partly due to 2008’s acquisition of Megatron Federal, which succumbed to business rescue in 2016.

In August, after the release of its full-year results to end-April, small and medium market cap analyst at Vunani Securities Anthony Clark wrote that "Ellies has wiped the slate as clean of past endeavours as it can".

Ellies had also managed to restructure its banking facilities with Standard Bank, with up to R170m of debt extended to a term of five years and a short-term facility of R135m.

Its original consumer business, which remains the core business of Ellies, maintained turnover at R1.3bn but posted a loss of R43m.


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