Executive director Andrew Price has replaced Dave Allen as chief executive and also becomes managing director of the group.

Allen will remain with the business for a handover period until the end of the year.

The move marks an astonishing trajectory for Price, who began mobilising a group of shareholders in the group in 2010/2011. He subsequently became executive director of the business a year ago and has since masterminded a major restructure at the paper merchant.

“A lot of the heavy lifting has now been executed and we’re now in the implementation phase,” Price told PrintWeek.

“Dave leaves with our absolute best wishes, he has been an utter professional and has worked very hard to get the business where it is now.”

Losses at the group were slashed from A$266.7m (£156m) to A$90.2m in the year to June 2013, on sales down nearly 15% to A$2.8bn.

Price said his focus now would be to implement plans that would return the business to profitability in its current financial year.

“We’ll be rolling out some new initiatives in the UK in the next 30-60 days,” he stated.

“I’m hoping our customers can see we’ve woken up and Paperlinx is back – we’ve got our mojo back! Our staff are also seeing the difference and we’ve got some really motivated and fired up people out there.”

Price also said he hoped to make an announcement regarding Paperlinx’s hybrid shareholders in the next few weeks. Paperlinx is obliged to buy back the hybrids if it wishes to alter the company’s capital structure.

Graham Critchley, who is the convenor of a group of Paperlinx hybrid shareholders, said: “It just could be the case that Andrew is sufficiently left of field to make the sort of changes that will really return profits.”

Allen will receive a termination payment of 12 months’ pay, while Price’s new remuneration package will involve a base salary of A$751,000 plus an incentive plan.