The finance chief of strife-ridden Stobart Group has quit amid prolonged in-fighting over control of the Southend airport owner.

The company today revealed that chief financial officer Richard Laycock was stepping down and an interim replacement was being sought.

Stobart has been embroiled in a row with former chief executive Andrew Tinkler after he was ejected from the board last month over an attempted board-room coup.

No mention of the dispute was made in a statement ahead of the company’s annual meeting today in Guernsey.

However, the group revealed plans for “realising value” through the disposal of non-core operating assets.

Besides its aviation interests, which beside Southend airport, include regional airline Stobart Air and Carlisle airport, the company also runs a biomass business and an infrastructure arm.

Stobart said it remained on track to deliver medium-term objectives of growing our Southend airport to handle five million passengers a year by 2022.

The company added: “We have seen strong progress at London Southend airport, with the announcement of a new five-year partnership with leading low-cost airline Ryanair.

“This five-year agreement, extendable to ten, will see Ryanair make a $300 million investment by opening a new base at London Southend airport.

“As a result, Ryanair will operate three planes out of Stobart Group’s London Southend airport from summer 2019, providing 13 routes to eight European countries, and will include six new destinations.”

The group said it started the year “trading satisfactorily”. A further update will be provided with half-year results for the period to the end of August expected to be issued on October 18.

Chief executive Warwick Brady, a former easyJet director, said: “Since stepping into my role last year, we have made significant progress across our business divisions, and continue to focus on delivering on our ambition to double the value of the business by 2022.”