Cadbury's chief checks in at InterContinental Hotels

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The Independent Online

Intercontinental Hotels, the group that owns the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inns brands, has poached one of Cadbury Schweppes's high fliers as its chief executive.

Intercontinental Hotels, the group that owns the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inns brands, has poached one of Cadbury Schweppes's high fliers as its chief executive.

Andrew Cosslett, an outsider to the hotel trade, has been drafted in to fill the gap left by Richard North, who was ousted in September.

The company said at the time Mr North did "not have the right skills for the job", despite his experience in the hotel sector. It wants Mr Cosslett, 49, to bring brand expertise to InterContinental, which is refocusing its business on to franchise and hotel-management contracts.

Mr Cosslett, who will earn about £650,000 a year as chief executive, has won considerable support in the City in his years running Cadbury's in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Before this he was managing director of Cadbury's UK business and was considered to be a contender for taking over at the Cadbury group at some point.

Julian Hardwick, of ABN Amro, said yesterday: "The very nature of the confectionery business relies on promoting brands and brand management. He's done a very good job with this for Cadbury's regions." Before Cadbury, Mr Cosslett worked in brand marketing for Unilever.

He will take up his post by the middle of March and will be employed initially on a two-year contract. This would entitle him to a pay-off of about £1.2m if he failed to deliver and was sacked. The group said he would move on to a 12-month contract after two years in the job.

Mr Cosslett will have to steer InterContinental through a transformation from a hotel group that owns its properties to a business that franchises its brands and runs hotels on management contracts. It put £1.3bn of assets on the market in September, about 57 per cent of its properties, and has sold about £2.2bn of assets since the group demerged from Six Continents in April last year.

The hotel industry is in the middle of a recovery following a slump in global business after 11 September 2001.

InterContinental's decision follows the choice of Ian Carter, who works for Black & Decker, by the Hilton leisure group to run its hotels business. A former president of Coca-Cola, Steven Heyer, was in October recruited to become chief executive of Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

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