Mark Mulford, chief executive at struggling distributor Datrontech, stepped down last week as the group announced a loss of £8.2m.
Allan Mack, chief operating officer at the company, denied that industry veteran Mulford, who was brought in from Ameriquest to reverse the company's fortunes, had been pressured to step aside following Datrontech's poor performance.
Mulford will now head an application service provider (ASP) venture for business-to-business applications, called PortablePlace.com, with John Tonnison, his former IT director at Frontline (now Computer 2000).
Commenting on his move, Mulford said: "I have done my three-year stint (at Datrontech). It was time to look at something new, and ASPs are where the future lies."
Mack said that Mulford's decision to move into the ASP space "was his baby".
Mulford will still retain links with his former company as it has a majority holding in the venture, although he did not rule out dealing with other businesses if the ASP succeeded.
PortablePlace.com is expected to face competition from big portals such as Yahoo! and Excite, which are toying with the idea of hosting, but "none of them are expected to provide a complete solution for SMEs like us", he said.
Ray Peck, former managing director at office equipment firm Corporate Express, will replace Mulford at Datrontech.
The departure was announced as the company recorded a loss for the year ended 2 January. Turnover fell to £200.7m, down from £223.3m last year.
The loss before tax of £8.2m was largely put down to "exceptional costs" of £7.9m accumulated through the closures of its unprofitable Eastern European offices, disposal of its RDT arm and relocation of its storage business, Summit, to Basingstoke.
Robin Bloor, chief executive at Bloor Research, said: "For Datrontech to invest in an ASP is a smart move. It realises that there are new markets going to waste, so getting involved in PortablePlace.com gives it a green-field start-up to compete separately while fighting a rear-guard action on distribution."
But he predicted Datrontech will have a hard task holding on to PortablePlace.com if it is successful.
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