Jose Luis Ripoll, the new chairman and chief executive of Aukett, has marked the start of his tenure by appointing a UK managing director to look after the firm's design work.
The role is to be filled by Paul Newman, its present director of retail and transportation.

The purpose of the move is to separate Aukett's identity as a public company from its design work. There have been concerns that the firm, the UK's only listed architect, has been getting more coverage for the poor performance of its shares than it has for its architecture.

Newman said: "We are driving for clarity; in the past it has been very cloudy. We have got some fantastic projects and some great clients, but this has tended to get lost in the plc issues."

Despite the attempt to differentiate the parent company from its operating practice, Newman will retain his place on the board of Aukett plc. He was made a board director in June last year, having been at the group since 1981.

Ripoll took over the roles of chief executive and chairman after a vote at an extraordinary general meeting in March, where he placed a series of resolutions to replace members of the existing board. Ripoll, who is a major shareholder in the group, believed that the company was underperforming.

In a statement to the stock exchange, Ripoll said: "The appointment of a UK managing director is a key step for the group in its plans to move forward."

He is currently deciding his strategy for the group, and is considering transferring Aukett from the stock exchange to the alternative investment market.