SHARES in John Menzies were down more than seven per cent in early trading after the aviation services company announced it had party company with chief executive Forsyth Black.

The company, now fully focused on aviation following the disposal of its distribution business for £74.5 million last year, said Mr Black had stepped down with immediate effect. It brings to a close Mr Black’s 19-year association with Menzies, during which the company said he has overseen the revival of Menzies distribution and transformed Menzies aviation in the last three years.

Mr Black has been replaced on an interim basis by Giles Wilson, Menzies’ chief financial officer.

Menzies chairman Dermot Smurfit said: “We would like to thank Forsyth for his dedication to the Group for the past 19 years and we wish him all the best for the future.

“Led by Giles, we are confident that the strong and experienced team we have in place will move the business forward in the short term. Simultaneously the Board will immediately undertake a thorough search for a new CEO, both internally and externally.”

Menzies this morning reported an underlying profit before tax from continuing operations of £44.1 million, up from £42.3m.