In his new role he will work alongside 65-year-old Hodgson and gradually assume the responsibilities of the chief executive. Gwilt succeeded controversial Interleasing chief Neil Pykett who was forced from his position after a protracted dispute with fellow board members.
Pykett unsuccessfully appealed to the Cowie board against his dismissal and is now understood to be taking his case to an industrial tribunal. He insisted he had done nothing wrong following claims from the Cowie Group that he had lost interest and motivation in his job after being told he would not automatically succeed Hodgson. Both parties declined to confirm whether their dispute would ultimately be resolved at a tribunal.
Gwilt joined Cowie Interleasing as a sales consultant in 1984 and was appointed sales director four years later before heading up Interleasing's northern operation where he presided over 40% growth of the fleet until his promotion earlier this year. He is currently finishing a strategic review of Interleasing, after which he will relocate to the Cowie Group's Sunderland head office.