Harriet Green who took over the company, two years ago has unexpectedly left with immediate effect.
The shock exit of Harriet Green was a “unanimous decision” made by the company board, during a conference call which was interestingly not attended by Green herself.
Her departure was announced as Thomas Cook posted an annual pre-tax loss of £115m, down from £213m a year earlier. Earnings before interest and tax rose 44% to £323m.
However in an interview with The Times publication just a little over a month ago, Green said she doesn’t believe CEOs should stay in jobs for long periods, but is adamant that she is nowhere near finished at Thomas Cook.
Thomas Cook shares plunged 22% to 107p, sending its market value down from more than £2bn to £1.56bn. Nonetheless Thomas Cook is now worth almost £2bn, compared to less than £150m when Ms Green joined from Premier Farnell in 2012.
However, in a statement announcing her exit, Ms Green said: “I always said that I would move on to another company with fresh challenges once my work was complete. That time is now.”
Green originally landed the prestigious job by cold e-mailing and approaching the chairman and telling him “I think you need me”.
Harriet Green who was known for her intense workouts, minimal sleeping patterns and perfect daily blow-dried hair, is rumored to be receiving a pay-off equivalent to around six months of her salary. Ms Green said: “I wish all of the team at this re-energised company continued success, as they move to the next phase of the company’s development.”
Thomas Cook’s chairman Frank Meysman said that Green’s departure is due to the company needing someone with more travel industry experience, which she lacked. “It’s a different balance of requirements that is needed going forward. Knowledge of the market and implementation of the strategy that Harriet has set out is more important than continuous strategy. She loved this job tremendously but she has always been very realistic that this job will end at some point in time.”
Peter Fankhauser the chief operating officer has now taken over.