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AA seeks new chairman to steer it through turnaround plan | Business News

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The AA, Britain’s biggest motoring organisation, has kicked off a search for a new chairman two years after the incumbent’s predecessor was sacked over a bust-up in a bar.

Sky News has learnt that the board of the AA has hired the search firm Korn Ferry to find a successor to John Leach.

City sources said this weekend that a new non-executive would be recruited to join the board early next year as chairman-designate before taking over from Mr Leach in the summer.

The search is being led by Andrew Blowers, the AA’s senior independent director, and comes at a time when the AA continues to struggle to convince investors that it can successfully tackle its huge debts.

Under chief executive Simon Breakwell, the AA has embarked on a strategy to put data and technology at the heart of a company boasting more than 12 million consumer and business customers.

This month, it announced a partnership with Uber that will give the ride-hailing app’s drivers in 40 UK cities access to AA roadside recovery services.

It will also involve integrating the AA into the Uber app, a move that analysts view as an important test of Mr Breakwell’s efforts to move the company into a digitally led approach to serving customers and business partners.

Best known for its traditional positioning as “Britain’s fourth emergency service”, the AA remains profitable but has struggled financially after being loaded up with debt by its former private equity owners.

It floated on the stock market in 2014, having been founded in 1905 by a group of motoring enthusiasts.

The company was demutualised in the 1990s before being sold to British Gas’s parent company, Centrica, and then offloaded again in 2004.

Best-known for its roadside recovery operations, the AA also owns a large financial services business, which includes insurance products as well as credit cards and loans issued in partnership with Bank of Ireland.

It also owns the AA Driving School and the British School of Motoring.

Last year the AA had revenues of £979 million, but said in its half-year update in September that membership would be broadly flat this year as its transformation plan continues.

Mr Leach, who has served on the AA’s board since 2014, replaced Bob Mackenzie, who was sacked as executive chairman for alleged gross misconduct in 2017.

A bitter legal fight between Mr Mackenzie and the company subsequently ensued and has yet to be fully resolved.

The AA declined to comment on Sunday on Mr Leach’s decision to step down next year.

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