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TOOL and equipment firm HSS Hire has replaced chief executive Chris Davies a month after it reported deepening half-year losses and issued a profit warning that sent its share price plummeting.

Mr Davies, 61, is stepping down after nine years in charge including its stock market float in February this year.

He will immediately be replaced by chief operating officer John Gill, 48, a former finance director at Screwfix.

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Chairman Alan Peterson said: “John’s record and strong leadership skills ensured that he has been a central part of the board’s thinking on succession planning for some time.”

He added that Mr Davies had made an “outstanding contribution” to the business since 2006 and led it through the financial crisis.

A month ago, HSS blamed slower-than-expected housing and home improvement markets as it warned full-year results would fall short of expectations.

It added that pre-tax losses for the first half of the year had widened to £14.1 million compared to £11.1 million in the same period in 2014, with earnings weighed down by investment and the £3 million cost of its share float.

The update saw shares slump by 39 per cent in a single session and they have since continued to tick lower. Shares added 2 per cent on the latest announcement.

Mr Davies will stay with the company until the end of the year for a handover period before leaving with a payout of 38 weeks’ salary plus benefits worth up to £307,608. He will not receive an annual bonus.

HSS’s warning last month came after builders’ merchant and DIY group Travis Perkins said it had been squeezed by the delayed effect of a mid-2014 housing market slowdown.

The Wickes owner said that a fall in mortgage approvals last year had fed through to hit its repair, maintenance and improvement market performance.