The chief financial officer of Exeter-based water giant Pennon has stepped down after less than a year in the role. Steve Buck is leaving the company, which owns South West Water and Bristol Water, for “personal reasons”, the firm said on Thursday.

Mr Buck will be succeeded by Laura Flowerdew as the board carries out its internal succession plan. Ms Flowerdew is chief customer and digital officer of Pennon Group and was previously chief financial officer of Bristol Water.

Mr Buck was appointed to Pennon’s board in 2023, taking up the finance chief role at the end of December last year.

“We fully support Steve’s decision, and the board wishes him well for the future,” the company said.

Susan Davy, chief executive of Pennon, added: “Having had the opportunity to work closely with Laura over the past few years, she is perfectly placed to take on the role. Laura has a strong understanding of our business and brings with her significant leadership experience.”

The news comes a month after the under-fire water group revealed Ms Davy saw her pay package jump 58% despite seeing pollution incidents at South West Water soaring by 80% to 194 in 2023.

Like this story? Why not sign up to get the latest business news straight to your inbox.

South West Water was also behind a major water contamination incident in Brixham, Devon, which saw around 17,000 households told to boil their drinking water after a parasite outbreak in their supply. The firm only lifted the boil notice this week – two months after traces of the parasite cryptosporidium were first detected in water supplies in May.

In a statement, South West Water said it had carried out “enhanced sampling and monitoring” over the past eight weeks in order to return tap water to a safe state to use. The group is paying out around £3.5m in compensation to affected customers.