Versarien PLC said James Stewart will retire as non-executive chairman at the end of December and Diane Savory will be appointed as the company’s new non-executive chairman on 1 January 2022.

The company said Savory, who was awarded an OBE in recognition of her contribution to business and was appointed as a Deputy Lord-Lieutenant in 2015, will attend monthly board meetings until formally taking office.

Versarien said since Stewart was appointed in June 2020, with a particular focus on assisting with expansion in the Far East, the company has completed its acquisition of the CVD assets and IP from Hanwha Aerospace in South Korea.

With macro events shifting the company’s focus away from China, the company said Stewart would instead concentrate on his private portfolio of UK and Far East investments, but will continue to assist Versarien with its global expansion plans, as appropriate, through his advisory firm Menlo Partners LLP.

Savory’s experience includes serving as chair of GFirst, Gloucestershire’s local enterprise trust; being a member of the Retail Sector Council at the Department of Business, Enterprise, Innovation and Skills; and working at Cheltenham-based Superdry for a total of 22 years.

Her experience is allied to particular elements of the company’s GSCALE project, it added.

Stewart said: “I am very pleased that the board is appointing Diane as my successor. Her history of working at Superdry during a period of accelerated global growth, her experience as chair at GFirst and her government connections provides excellent experience for this appointment.”

Savory added: “I am delighted to accept the appointment as James’ successor at such an exciting time for the business. As the graphene world begins to gain commercial traction our portfolio of graphene products and global footprint, supported by the UK government, will allow Versarien to play a key role in bringing advanced materials to the commercial and consumer markets.”

Chief executive Neill Ricketts said he has worked with Savory at GFirst and he is “confident that her experience will be invaluable to Versarien as we focus on our objectives of achieving commercial traction and sustainable shareholder returns, whilst also focussing on the benefits graphene can bring to the environment.”

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