Debbie White charged with turning around firm’s fortunes after huge loss

Interserve has hired Debbie White, a senior executive from outsourcing group Sodexo, as its new chief executive.

White (pictured) will be charged with turning around the fortunes of the £3.2bn-turnover company after a troubled period, which saw it post a nearly £100m loss last week, after current boss Adrian Ringrose had already announced his intention to step down last autumn.

White will take up the role from the beginning of September, when Ringrose will step down. She is currently chief executive of government and healthcare worldwide at Sodexo, having held a number of senior roles at the company since 2004.

White graduated in economics at Cambridge and has previously worked at Arthur Andersen, AstraZeneca and PwC Consulting. She is a trustee of the charity Wellbeing of Women and a non-executive director of Howden Joinery Group Plc.

Interserve chairman Glyn Barker said: “I am confident that, under Debbie’s leadership, the team will deliver the change and growth necessary to take Interserve forward and enhance shareholder value.”

White said: “I am delighted to be joining Interserve. Over the years I have had a great respect for the company and its people and I am looking forward to leading the organisation into a new era.”

Interserve posted a heavy loss for 2016 as it counted the cost of its botched foray into the energy from waste business.

The firm entered the market – which involves turning household rubbish into energy – back in 2012 with a deal for work in Glasgow.

Interserve has since taken on schemes at five other sites including Derby, Rotherham and Peterborough but last week the business said the cost of getting out of this sector – which it said it was pulling the plug on back in May last year – had now escalated £90m to £160m.

Interserve said it expected to substantially complete construction and commissioning work at the sites by the end of this year but admitted it wouldn’t be out of the woods for a while as “our contractual obligations in respect of warranties and the resolution of claims will continue for a period thereafter”.

Revenue at the overall business in the year to December 2016 stayed flat at £3.2bn with the firm racking up a £94.1m pre-tax loss from the £79.5m profit it turned in back in 2015.