Lord Haskins, chairman of Express Dairies, has come under attack by John Royden, who has recently become a small shareholder in the firm.

Royden, a self-confessed corporate carpetbagger, revealed that he intends to write to Express’ shareholders this week calling for Haskins’ resignation. Haskins, he argues, has been distracted from Express by his other interests, which include chairing Northern Foods, heading the Better Regulation Task Force and co-ordinating the government’s rural recovery plan.

Express has seen a substantial fall in its share price, and Royden argues that the company must by appoint a “turn round specialist” to recover its value. New management could also accelerate Express’ role in the industry’s move towards consolidation, by pursuing merger talks with companies such as Robert Wiseman Dairies, or the Swedish and Danish farmers’ cooperative Arla.

Express’ interim results are due on 16 November and many market watchers expect Haskins to announce then that he will retire from Express and Northern Foods early next year.

Many believe that replacement chairmen are already lined up.