Matthews is still driving a Derby Cycle Corporation desk but he is believed to be about to negotiate a golden handshake. After the BikeBiz story late last year about Derbys former owner Alan Finden-Crofts being installed above him, Matthews emailed us and said this was not true.
However, it’s clear that one of Finden-Crofts first moves he took on the role as executive chairman on 2nd January was to explain to the Derby CEO of nearly three years that his services would no longer be required. The Stamford, Connecticut, offices are to close.
This was today confirmed by Simon Goddard, Derby’s group corporate controller based in Nottingham. However he refused to confirm that Matthews had been ousted. He didn’t deny it either.
Execs at the Stamford HQ – it ran up bills of $11m last year, yet Alan Finden-Crofts used to run Derby on a shoestring from a home office are keeping tight-lipped about the closure. "We’re having a very Happy New Year," said one, valiantly.
Gary Matthews emailed BikeBiz with his customary "no comment."
It’s no secret that BikeBiz has helped The Mail on Sunday and the Nottingham Evening Post with their reporting on the Sturmey Archer/Derby affair. The Mail on Sundays coverage has been instrumental in making it far easier for Finden-Crofts to ask Matthews to step down. The Harvard hotshot he was also business manager of The Daily Princetonian whilst a student at Princeton and has worked for Proctor & Gamble, Pepsico and Guiness has brought Derby a lot of extremely unfavourable headlines.
Former Sturmey Archer employees are said to be delighted with the departure of Matthews, although they realise he will probably leave with a substantial severance package as is the norm in the upper echelons of corporate life.
Matthews has been repeatedly criticised by BikeBiz for his role in the needless collapse of Sturmey Archer. He said selling Sturmey to an unknown "investment house", which milked the company dry, was a "board decision". However, the Sturmey debacle must have pained Finden-Crofts and once Thayer and Perseus Derby’s principals put him back in the driving seat he made sure the corporation would go back to having a flat management structure. Once again it is led by somebody who is both passionate and knowledgable about the global bike trade. Investors will be happy to see costs being cut and an expert at the helm but Derby is in such a perilous financial strait that Finden-Crofts will have to pull off a minor miracle to keep the corporation in one piece by the end of the first quarter, Derby’s crunch part of the year.s
Floating off the profitable Gazelle (is an MBO likely?) might be one way to keep some of the other Derby brands alive. Finden-Crofts is a fervant Raleigh supporter.