COLIN GRAVES is to become executive chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club after resigning from Costcutter Supermarkets Group Ltd, the company he founded in 1986.
Graves is to combine the new role of Yorkshire’s chief executive with that of his current position of club chairman after severing his ties with the Dunnington-based convenience store business.
Graves will start work in his new role at Headingley Carnegie on Monday and be paid a full-time salary by the club.
He sold his shares in Costcutter last November, having built the business from just seven stores in the York area to more than 1,550 across the UK.
“Costcutter wanted me to stay on in a non-executive role and use my name if things went wrong,” said Graves, who has been on the Yorkshire board since 2002.
“But that wasn’t acceptable to me.
“I started that business up from nothing and built it up from scratch. I have, therefore, decided it’s time to move on.”
Graves, who has combined tough-talking with astute business acumen to become one of the country’s leading entrepreneurs, is now looking forward to having increasing involvement with Yorkshire cricket.
He has been unable to devote as much time as he would like to it due to his commitments as Costcutter chairman but has still bankrolled the club for a number of years.
Graves has overseen the redevelopment of Headingley cricket ground and remains committed to preserving its international status. He is also keen to improve the club’s business model.
“I’m really looking forward to this new challenge,” he added.
“There are a lot of things that I want to do – specifically, to drive the business behind Yorkshire cricket.
“We’ve got to look more closely at the other income streams such as corporate hospitality, entertaining and making better use of the facilities we’ve got.
“I also want to get hold of the membership and try to drive that as much as I can.
“I will start with a blank sheet of paper for next year because I want to work as closely as possible with the loyal members.”
Graves revealed the Yorkshire board suggested late last year that he consider becoming the club’s chief executive.
He had previously intimated that Yorkshire would advertise for the position which has remained unfilled since Stewart Regan left to become chief executive of the Scottish FA in autumn 2010.
“It was actually the board’s suggestion when it became clear that I was going to be packing in Costcutter,” added Graves. “I started looking at this possibility and began to get more interested in taking on the role.
“I’m putting no timescale on this and will do it for as long as the board want me to do it.
“As long as they’re happy, then I’m happy, and I’m really looking forward to getting stuck in.”
Although Graves will be paid by Yorkshire, he insisted the salary would not be sizeable. “It certainly won’t break the bank and it will be the first time in 12 years I’ve been paid a salary.
“There’s a lot to do at Yorkshire and I want to improve everything we’ve got at the ground. We’ve got the basic infrastructure in place but there is plenty of hard work ahead.”
Yorkshire start their CB40 campaign tomorrow when they host Kent at Headingley (1.45pm).
Adam Lyth will come into contention having been left out of the opening quarter of the Championship campaign.
Yorkshire will hope to improve on last year’s showing in the tournament, when they finished second-bottom of their group after winning five and losing seven of their 12 games.
“We’ve obviously been focusing on four-day cricket of late but now have to turn our minds again to one-day cricket,” said director of cricket Martyn Moxon.
“Hopefully, we can play a lot better and more consistently than we did last year when we had some good performances but not enough of them.”
Costcutter’s driving force: Page 16.