UK director of Japanese contracting giant cites personal reasons – not £2m pre-tax losses – for stepping down

The managing director of the UK arm of Japanese contractor Kajima has resigned after heading the £100m turnover firm for five years.

Dick Barker, who joined the group in the mid-1990s from contractor Morrison, handed in his notice late last month, but will be staying on as an executive adviser in a part-time capacity.

Barker’s position will be temporarily taken by Masa Tomita, the deputy chairman of Kajima Europe. Tomita is expected to fill the post for about a year before handing over to one of the four British directors on the firm’s European board.

Barker, aged 51, said his resignation was largely for personal reasons. He said: “I need to make some personal changes. I have been living in London during the week and travelling to Yorkshire on the weekends. I want to spend more time with my teenage children.

“I also thought it was an appropriate time to step down. There are a lot of good people in place and lots of opportunities. I wanted to do what I could to make the transition as smooth as possible, which is why I’m staying on as an adviser.”

Barker stressed the company was in a much stronger position since he took over in 1999, despite posting pre-tax losses of £2m in 2003. The firm was sued last year by developer Chelworth Holdings over a £46m office scheme in central London, and was also called in to rectify defects at a prefabricated housing project for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in Leeds earlier this year.

Barker admitted some troubles but defended the firm. He said: “There have been some problems and upsets but I think I have built solid foundations. You have to look at Kajima as a global entity rather than just locally.”

Since Barker took over, the firm has carved a niche in the PFI sector, winning schools work in North Tyneside and Camden and Ealing in London, as well as a headquarters for the Health and Safety Executive in Liverpool.