Drax CFO Gardiner succeeds Thompson as CEO

Dorothy Thompson

Selby, North Yorkshire-based power company Drax Group said its chief financial officer Will Gardiner will succeed Dorothy Thompson as CEO from January 1, 2018 — just as a major change in strategy gets under way at the company.

“The appointment results from Dorothy Thompson’s decision to step down after 12 successful years as group chief executive,” said Drax.

Last week, Drax Group said it gave notice to the UK’s Planning Inspectorate of its intention to consult on long-term options to repower up to two of its coal units to gas — and to build battery storage at Drax Power Station.

The UK has said that all coal power plants must be closed by the middle of the next decade — and Drax has already switched three coal-burning units to wood pellets.

Thompson said: “Drax Group plays a strategic role in the UK electricity sector generating around 16% of UK renewable electricity, is a world leader in the production of wood pellets and is a leading challenger brand in the supply of electricity to businesses.

“I retire knowing the group is in excellent shape: it has the right strategy, the right team and in Will, the right leader.”

Gardiner joined Drax as CFO and a board member in November 2015.

Drax said it will now start a process to appoint a new CFO and will also review the option of making an appointment on an interim basis.

Drax chairman Philip Cox said: “We are delighted Will is to become chief executive.

“He has been a key architect of our new strategy and is a focused, innovative and engaging leader.

“His appointment is a natural progression after two years working alongside Dorothy developing an ambitious strategy which I am confident will create significant benefits for all Drax’s stakeholders.

“On behalf of the board I would like to thank Dorothy for her enormous contribution to Drax.

“She transformed the business during her tenure and leaves the group in a strong position with a clear strategy that lays the foundations for further success in a changing energy sector.”

Gardiner said: “I am thrilled to be appointed as group chief executive at this exciting time for Drax.

“The changes we are seeing in the UK energy sector are unprecedented and we have an opportunity to thrive while doing the right thing for the UK energy market.

“Drax’s people have demonstrated repeatedly their ability to deliver transformational change and I’m delighted to be working with them to build on Dorothy’s strong legacy.”