One of the biggest shareholders in Punch Taverns said the leased and managed pub group should not hire a replacement for Giles Thorley, the departing chief executive. Andy Brough of Schroders, the fund manager that holds about 6.5% of Punch shares, said the group should instead appoint an executive chairman to oversee the two divisional heads responsible for running its 7,600 pubs. “Punch does not need a chief executive,” Brough told The Sunday Times newspaper. “They have two — one running the tenanted pubs, the other running the managed pubs. What they need is an executive chairman. Giles Thorley did not really have a job at the end. Why bring someone in to that role?” Punch, which has net debt of £3.5bn and a market value of £517m, announced Thorley’s resignation last week. He has been in charge for nine years. Although he told Peter Cawdron, Punch’s chairman, last September of his desire to quit, the company is yet to appoint a successor. The two divisional heads, Roger Whiteside and Mike Tye, have both been mentioned as possible replacements, while outside candidates are also being interviewed. The Punch board is aware of Schroders’ view and will take it into account when deciding on succession. An announcement could come towards the end of this month or in early May.