Shares in Utilitywise (UTW:AIM) take another tumble as Steve Atwell, head of the business-to-business energy consultancy's most profitable division, quits after less than 18 months in charge.

Brought in from UK software champion Sage (SGE) in 2015, Atwell ran Utilitywise's Enterprise division, which advises small and medium-sized businesses on their energy requirements.

Atwell's departure is the latest in a sequence of comings and goings in the boardroom at Utilitywise which is expected to be completed when its new chief executive is announced to the market over the coming months.

Atwell's successor in charge of the key Enterprise division is Chris Charlton, who has been with Utilitywise for the last six years.

And it was disappointing trading in Enterprise which led to 'a weaker overall performance than we would have liked', according to current chief executive Geoff Thompson in a trading update today.

Utilitywise continues to post strong top-line growth, up at least 19% to £82 million for the full year. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) will not keep pace with top-line growth, the update indicates, with the measure of underlying profitability expected to be 'greater than £18 million', compared to £17.8 million in the 12 months to 31 July 2015.

Factors weighing on profitability included high staff turnover in the Enterprise division and investments in technology.

'Whilst the investment in building the Group's multi-channel approach has increased costs in the short term, this will drive customer acquisition and assist the actions taken to reduce [staff] attrition,' says Thompson.

Cash conversion, which has been one of Utilitywise's key weaknesses because of its commission-led business model, was stronger in the last 12 months according to the statement as improved payment terms with customers kicked in. Net debt declined from £6.7 million to around zero by the period-end.

Thompson, founder of Utilitywise, is expected to be come executive chairman when the new chief executive is appointed.

Shares in Utilitywise trade 5.5% lower at 135p.

Issue Date: 08 Aug 2016