Green stepping down at Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook boss Harriet Green announced her surprise departure today after two years in which she has overhauled the once-troubled company.

Harriet Green announced her surprise departure today

Ms Green, who is stepping down as chief executive with immediate effect, said her work at the company was done after returning it to a sound financial footing. She will be replaced by chief operating officer Peter Fankhauser.

Thomas Cook’s current stock market value of just under £2bn compares with £148m when she took the helm in July 2012.

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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.

“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.”

The announcement came as Thomas Cook posted underlying earnings of £323m for the year to September, an increase of 44 per cent on a year earlier.

Thomas Cook shares slid by as much as 20 per cent following Ms Green’s announcement and a warning from the company that growth in the current financial year will moderate due to tougher trading conditions, which have particularly affected its German and French markets.

Under Ms Green’s leadership the company cut costs through the closure of shops, as well as through the sale of hotels and reduction in its airline fleet.

She took charge after the travel operator was forced to turn to its banks for an additional £200m of loans to stay afloat.

Thomas Cook chairman Frank Meysman said: “Harriet has had a highly positive impact on this company.

“We emerge from her transformation stronger, with a clear strategy, world-class leadership team, updated brand, and a renewed focus on the customer.”

Ms Green joined the company from Leeds-based technology distributor Premier Farnell, where she was chief executive.

Mr Fankhauser has been with Thomas Cook for 13 years and his success in turning around the UK business led to his promotion to chief operating officer in November last year.