CHARLES Hammond is stepping down as chief executive of Forth Ports after more than two decades in the role.

Mr Hammond declared that the “time feels right for me to evolve and be open to new opportunities” as it was announced he would be succeeded by Stuart Wallace, Forth’s current chief operating officer. Mr Wallace will formally take up the post on July 1, following a six-month handover.

During his tenure, Mr Hammond has overseen significant expansion at Forth Ports, which now owns and operates eight commercial ports. The outgoing boss, a qualified lawyer, also oversaw the company’s move from a publicly listed PLC to private ownership in 2011.

Writing on LinkedIn, Mr Hammond said the decision to step down had been “challenging” but said he was “delighted” that Mr Wallace would be taking over.

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“This has not been an easy decision, the people in this organisation have made this tenure a hard one to move beyond, quite simply we have the best and most talented team in the industry,” he posted. “The time feels right for me to evolve and be open to new opportunities in the next chapter of my career.”

Mr Hammond stands down shortly after Forth, which owns the ports of Grangemouth, Leith (Edinburgh), Dundee, Rosyth, and Tilbury (London), as well as three satellite ports in Fife, set out its plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2042, and carbon neutrality by 2032.

The company noted that it is a major player in the renewables sector. It said a private investment programme, totalling £150 million, has already provided support to offshore wind development with the creation of bespoke renewables hubs in Dundee – currently supporting the construction of the Neart na Gaoithe offshore wind farm – and in Leith. There are also early plans to develop a floating wind hub across the River Forth at Burntisland.

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Mr Hammond said in a statement: “It has been the privilege of my career to lead Forth Ports. From the significant growth of the business both sides of the border to the challenges of the Covid pandemic and Brexit, I have been fortunate enough to have been supported by the best team in the industry.

“The most consistent feature of my time at Forth Ports has been the stability that we have sought to create and, while I step down at the most exciting of times, I do so with the confidence that I will leave behind a business that is in great hands and very well positioned to continue to flourish.”

Mr Wallace, a chartered accountant, joined Forth in 2002, initially as financial controller for Scotland, prior to being seconded to the Port of Tilbury to run general port operations and the London Container Terminal. He returned to Scotland in 2013 when he was appointed divisional director for its Scottish operations.

Mr Wallace was appointed chief operating officer in 2017, when he also joined the board.

Mr Wallace said: I am proud and honoured to have been asked to lead this fantastic organisation as we face the challenges and opportunities of a just transition to net zero and the significant expansion of Scotland’s renewable energy sector.

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“With the great team that we have built right across the business, I am confident that Forth Ports will continue to thrive. I am immensely grateful to Charles for steering the business into such a strong position and for his mentorship and support for me personally. I look forward to the next chapter in the Forth Ports story with relish.”

Patrick Samson, senior vice president and global head of real assets investments at PSP Investments, Forth Ports’ principal shareholder, said: “Charles will have been CEO at Forth Ports for more than 23 years when he steps down and we are grateful for his exceptional leadership and his contributions to the company over the last 12 years of our ownership.

“As we look to the future, we are excited to see Stuart succeed Charles as CEO. With his extensive operational experience and strategic mindset, we are confident in Stuart’s ability to lead Forth Ports through the next stage of its growth. We wish Charles all the best in this next phase of his career and look forward to continuing to work with Stuart and the broader management team."