Bob Holt, chairman of social housing contractor Mears, has insisted that he has “the highest regard” for Stuart Black, the former chief executive, who stunned the City by resigning in January.

Holt, who has taken over as chief executive, fell out with Black over a restructuring of the business, but insists this was an unusual occurrence. He said: “Stuart and I disagreed on one thing in two-and-a-half years of working together. We disagreed over the operational structure of the business. I had, and have, the highest regard for him.”

The disagreement was over the integration of domiciliary care firm Careforce into Mears. Holt wanted whoever headed that business to sit on the main executive board, whereas Black wanted them to report to him. The situation resulted in Black feeling that there were “two chief executives”.