THOMAS Cook Group chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa has resigned with immediate effect.
Sam Weihagen, current chairman, Northern Europe and deputy to the group CEO, has been appointed interim group CEO. A search process is underway to identify a permanent successor.
Fontenla-Novoa joined Thomas Cook in 1996 upon its acquisition of Sunworld, which was then the UK’s fourth largest tour operator. He was appointed group CEO following the merger with MyTravel Group in 2007.
In recent times, he has come under increasing pressure from shareholders to step down.
Thomas Cook’s plummeting share price, diminishing profits and Fontenla-Novoa's decision to merge the group’s retail operation with The Co-operative Travel and Midlands Co-operative have all combined to take a final toll on his tenure.
Michael Beckett, chairman Thomas Cook Group, said in a press statement: “The board is focused on restoring market confidence in the group, which has been impacted by concerns over debt levels and the poor performance of our UK business. We are taking actions to strengthen the balance sheet, including a disposal programme that we expect to realise up to £200 million (US$328 million).”
“Sam Weihagen’s extensive experience in the travel industry will be invaluable in guiding the UK through its strategic and operational review,” he added.