Industry sources have confirmed that both Roger Whiteside, Punch’s leased division head, and Mike Tye, Punch’s managed head, have formally applied for the chief executive position at the company (Paul Charity writes). A source said: “The company is looking at internal and external candidates for the job with an announcement due in a few weeks’ time. "Both Roger and Mike are strong candidates with a proven track record in retail. Between them, they have put together a credible operational plan for their respective divisions.” Commentators are divided on the wisdom of promoting either of Tye or Whiteside with their plans for their respective divisions not worked through yet. Thorley himself has indicated that his departure results from a need for Punch to focus on operations going forward rather than mergers and acquisitions. Another source said: “There was very little in the way of detailed operations plans for the managed and leased divisions before their arrival. “A new chief executive from outside the business would want to institute a new strategy review, which would be likely to slow the existing momentum within the two divisions. If the current strategy is right, there’s an argument for promoting from within.” Thorley has indicated he intends to stay at Punch until early summer to help with a hand-over if a chief executive is appointed from outside the business.