Buccleuch — one of Scotland’s biggest private landowners — said on Wednesday the Duke of Buccleuch will step down as chairman of the group at the beginning of March shortly after his 65th birthday.
He will be succeeded as executive chairman by Benny Higgins, former chief executive officer of Tesco Bank, who has been a non-executive Buccleuch director for the last six years.
The Duke’s elder son, the Earl of Dalkeith, will become deputy chairman.
John Glen will move from his current role of CEO of Buccleuch “to focus on a strategic review of large-scale energy projects which are at a critical phase in their development.”
The colourful Higgins was formerly a leading executive at RBS, HBOS and Standard Life.
The Duke of Buccleuch said: “The last decade had seen a transformation of the group with promising diversification into important new areas and the modernisation of our management structures and practices.
“I am pleased to announce the end of my chairmanship at a time when the business is in a very healthy position.
“I express warm appreciation to John Glen for his huge part in achieving that and pay to tribute to the energy and commitment of everyone within the group who has made it possible.”
The Duke said the group had endured some difficult years following the 2008 financial crash but is now trading profitably and is committed to driving forward its business objectives.
He said: “Buccleuch, like many businesses, has to continually adapt and change.
“The implementation of a strategy to reduce our overall rural footprint and realise property sales, while continuing to invest in a range of projects which contribute to the rural economy, has proved successful and means the business is well-placed to face the challenges and opportunities which Brexit and the future may bring.
“Buccleuch is engaged in a diverse range of business activity.
“We have an accomplished and settled management structure in place and the time is also right for us to assess the potential of our significant interests in the energy sector.”
The Duke added: “I am absolutely delighted that Benny Higgins has accepted the board’s invitation.
“With his huge experience in business and finance, he will ensure we make the most of recent investments and the talents of our workforce and his passion for culture and the arts ties in closely with our own family vision.”
The Duke will continue to be involved in heritage elements of the family holdings, including historic houses and the art collection, and will continue to chair the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust.
Higgins said: “The group has taken tremendous strides recently and I look forward to working with the family and everyone within Buccleuch to make sure that we contribute as richly and widely as possible to the prosperity of rural Scotland.”