Amid recent criticism from former chairman Sir Tom Cowie that the Group was making slow progress in finding a successor particularly following the dismissal earlier this year of Cowie Interleasing managing director Neil Pykett, who was widely tipped to succeed Hodgson, the spokesman said: 'The board has a number of people it is assessing with regard to a replacement. There are some very strong candidates but the board is not under pressure to do anything too quickly.
'We announced on March 11 that we were actively seeking a chief executive designate. It is early days yet but we are making good progress in that respect and the company will make an appointment in its own time.' Hodgson has said he would like to remain at the helm for a further two to three years although he is working without a contract.