In the second of a monthly series on industry executives who steer headline-hitting companies, we meet Keith Lovelock, the unfamiliar face of retirement home specialist McCarthy & Stone
It has been a turbulent year for retirement homes specialist McCarthy & Stone. In the summer, chairman and co-founder John McCarthy launched an audacious bid to take the company private. Rebuffed by the board for undervaluing the company, McCarthy resigned, his reputation in the City battered.

Chief executive Keith Lovelock doubled up on his role to succeed McCarthy as chairman, a move that some say has finally allowed him to step out of McCarthy's shadow. Lovelock denies that he feels this way and claims that he and McCarthy were close, forming a dynamic partnership in the 10 years they worked together as chief executive and chairman respectively.

But Lovelock admits: "I haven't spoken to him [since his resignation]. As far as I'm concerned, in rejecting the bid we were just doing the best thing for the company."

The board has certainly done well for its shareholders. Last week it posted a 54% increase in pre-tax profit, breaking the £100m barrier for the first time. Lovelock chuckles, almost embarrassed at his own success: "The figures were pretty good! We're buying enough land and have got enough work-in-progress to grow the business."

Lovelock is not one of the industry's big personalities, such as David Wilson or Tony Pidgley. But this has given him a degree of respectability. As one City analyst puts it: "He's fairly low profile. There's no illusion of grandeur."

Mike Foster, a construction analyst at KBC Peel Hunt, says that Lovelock owes much of the company's success to the recession in the early 1990s. Most of McCarthy & Stone's rivals exited the retirement homes market, but the board gritted its teeth and stuck with it.

As a result, McCarthy & Stone now benefits from a near-monopoly position. However, the recession period was before Lovelock took over as chief executive.

Foster says: "To be fair to John McCarthy, he had the idea and turned the company around in 1990-92. It was through his wisdom that it is in this unique situation."

McCarthy may have blotted his copybook, but it seems Lovelock still can't quite step out of his shadow.

Up the ladder

Age 63
Academic history 
Qualified as a chartered quantity surveyor at Brixton School of Building
Career history
1964 Joined contractor Rush & Tompkins
1969 Led a residential development in the south of France for Rush & Tompkins
1974 Joined Wimpey as development manager for France
1982 Appointed managing director of Federated Housing
1986 Joined McCarthy & Stone as chairman of its international division
1989 Appointed to McCarthy & Stone plc’s board
1993 Promoted to chief executive
2001 Appointed deputy chairman
2003 Joint chairman/chief executive