Lawrie Haynes has stepped down as chief executive of consultant White Young Green with immediate effect

Chief operating officer Paul Hamer becomes group managing director and will report to chairman Peter Wood.

Lawrie Haynes

The board said Haynes left the company by “mutual agreement”. His exit comes two months after the £282m-turnover company issued a profit warning for 2008, blaming the economic downturn.

Some in the industry were critical of the price WYG paid for structural engineer Adams Kara Taylor for £10.5m in November 2006.

Others questioned how well Haynes, who is the former boss of the Highways Agency and British Nuclear Group, had adapted to life as chief executive of a listed company.