A new boss, Harriet Green, with no experience of the travel business is just what the ailing company needs
Just what Thomas Cook needs: a new chief executive with no experience of the travel business. That’s not sarcasm. The reign of Manny Fontenla-Novoa, a tour operator all his career, proved disastrous for Thomas Cook. There were too many share buy-backs and acquisitions and the company was too slow to react to holidaymakers’ increased willingness to book online.
Harriet Green, from electronics distributor Premier Farnell, which can fairly claim to be an e-commerce specialist, sounds a more promising prospect. In share price terms, Green’s record at Farnell is not stellar (the price is roughly where it was when she arrived in 2006) but an outsiders’ appraisal of the troublesome UK operation could work best.
Thomas Cook’s shares rose 16% on the appointment. After three refinancings in a year, there is a relief that a credible outsider thinks the company is still worth risking a reputation.
We are yet to discover the potential rewards that have tempted Green but chairman Frank Meysman says she’ll have a six-month notice period, rather than the standard 12 months, and strict performance criteria and clawback conditions will apply. In other words, there’ll be no repeat of the farcical £1.17m pay-off for Fontenla-Novoa. One should hope so too.