The details of the payment, revealed in Costain's annual report, add weight to the industry's suspicion that Armitt and his major shareholders fell out over the future of the group. Costain said it had paid Armitt £300,000 as "compensation for loss of office". This week it noted that both the company and Armitt had "independently" agreed last year that a change of direction was needed to take the company forward.
Perhaps the directors were right to call for a more aggressive approach. Armitt may have started the recovery but his replacement, Stuart Doughty, is capitalising on it with an ambitious growth plan that has captured the attention of the City and doubled the share price this year.