Thomas Cook hit by top-level exits

Thomas Cook is in disarray after two further top-level departures: commercial director Peter Shanks is joining rival Going Places and chief executive Christopher Rodrigues has been publicly ousted.

Shanks will become purchasing director at Going Places, the retail division of Airtours. Rod Allerton, who was managing airline relations at Thomas Cook, is now acting commercial director.

A spokesman for Thomas Cook says the company is “considering its options” regarding Shanks’ permanent replacement.

A source close to the company says Rodrigues’ departure indicates concern that Thomas Cook was losing direction and there was a lack of clarity within the firm about its future growth.

“Rodrigues’ departure signals an attempt to sort out the company’s direction. His departure was not a real surprise,” the source says. Hans Sierke, head of London operations of Westdeutsche Landesbank, which owns 90 per cent of Thomas Cook, is taking over as chief executive.

The departures come a month after strategic and marketing development director for Europe, Tony Bennett, resigned after declining a position with Thomas Cook’s worldwide travellers cheque business (MW March 3).

Thomas Cook this week has also revealed poor profit figures for last year. While pre-tax profits rose from ú31.6m to ú60.7m, the majority of this came from the ú39.4m profit from selling its business travel operations to American Express last September.

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