easyJet loses commercial chief to private equity firm

easyJetEasyJet chief commercial officer Saad Hammad is leaving the budget airline after just over three years to become European managing director at private equity firm Gores Group.

The airline says that it is seeking a replacement.

Hammad, who has previously held senior brand, sales and marketing roles at Procter & Gamble, Thorn EMI and Vision Express, leaves after presiding over tumultuous relations with the airline’s agency contacts.

He caused a storm of criticism across the advertising industry after calling off a review of the airline’s account when it was down to the final two. It had shortlisted Ogilvy Group and Saatchi & Saatchi but he decided against appointing a single European agency in favour of creating a roster of “hot shop agencies”.

Hammad believed the new plan would allow the company – which operates from 68 airports in 18 countries – to react more quickly to changes in local markets.

However, the airline eventually appointed WPP Group-owned Ogilvy as its sole European agency after it repitched against DLKW & Partners.

His departure comes just months after head of brand marketing Paul Simmons left the airline. He joined Dubailand Parks & Resorts as sales and marketing director (MW September 4). His role has since been scrapped and brand communications manager Andrew Berks was appointed to the new role of head of marketing services (MW September 25).

EasyJet announced a 45% drop in full-year profits to the end of September 2008, which it attributed to a fuel price hike. It said it would focus on price-cutting and savings to recover profits in 2009.

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