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Softcat outlines CEO succession plan

Channel player Softcat reveals that current boss Graeme Watt will leave that position in August next year

Softcat has updated investors on leadership changes that will see its current CEO step into a board position next summer.

From 1 August 2023, Graham Charlton will become CEO of Softcat with the current incumbent Graeme Watt succeeding fellow former company boss Martin Hellawell as non-executive chair.

By next summer, Watt would have been at the helm of the firm for five years. He is being replaced by Charlton, who has also put plenty of time into the firm, with eight years as CFO.

The board have given Charlton their blessing, and the search for a replacement CFO has started as the business looks to get everything sorted for the changes next summer.

In a statement announcing the succession planning, Softcat’s board acknowledged that the move from CEO to the role of chair was not one that met with the recommendations of the Corporate Governance Code, but the decision had been unanimous. The board felt that given his experience, knowledge of the business and championing of the firm’s culture, Watt was the best choice.

Karen Slatford, chair of the nomination committee and senior independent director, said that it was important to work with people who understood how Softcat worked at a business and cultural level.

“Softcat is a very special business with a distinct culture which puts people at the heart of everything we do. As we have been working on succession planning, we have been very focused on ensuring that we protect and develop that culture and continue to be committed to the simple, proven growth strategy which has served us so well,” she said.

“Graeme and Graham are the best people to lead the company, and we all look forward to working with them when they assume their new roles in August 2023. We will miss Martin when he steps down as chair, but are confident that he leaves us with strong foundations for continued future success,” she added.

Watt said that he had worked alongside Charlton and knew he would be the right person to succeeded him: “Graham has an intimate knowledge of Softcat which he has built up over eight years, and I am confident he will continue to drive the business forward.”

He added that he’s looking forward to taking a fresh role that will give him an opportunity to continue to work with the business.

“I relish the opportunity to remain on the board as chair and believe we have established a very clear and successful governance model in this respect. That said, these changes are a year away. I will remain fully engaged and committed in my position as CEO and continue to drive the business hard for the next twelve months,” he said.

Next year will also see long-term Softcat executive Hellawell step away from the business and end a chapter that has been both personally and professionally significant.

“It has been a privilege and a tremendous experience to have been involved with the Softcat team. When the time comes, I am very pleased to be leaving Softcat in the hands of extraordinary successors who I have every confidence will take the business to ever greater heights,” he said.

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