Green the outsider is Thomas Cook boss


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The Independent Online

Thomas Cook named Harriet Green as its chief executive yesterday, leading its chairman, Frank Meysman, to insist that the beleaguered travel company is "ready for lift off".

Ms Green arrives from the electronic parts distributor Premier Farnell with a mission to turn around a business that has been in trouble for several months.

On one disastrous day in November, its shares crashed 70 per cent after it admitted that trading was terrible and that it would not survive without cash injections from banks. The banks have since been supportive.

That Ms Green comes from outside the travel trade raised some eyebrows.

Mr Meysman said: "I think that may be an asset. We have hundreds of people who are perfect experts in the travel industry. We now have someone who is at the forefront of technology with experience of turning around companies."

Mark Brumby at Langton Capital said: "Seasoned travel operators may not have come across Ms Green but, as she is joining the industry from outside, that is not surprising. Her skills may be and should be transferable but the air-inclusive travel industry is a tough one, not one that has traditionally been kind to newcomers, and the learning curve will be steep."

Ms Green is likely to be on an attractive incentive deal, the details of which will come later.

Executive pay is a sensitive subject, especially at Thomas Cook.

The previous permanent chief executive, Manny Fontenla-Novoa, was paid £15m during his four years at the helm, a tenure that it seems impossible to describe as a success.

Mr Meysman said of the pay issue: "My way of addressing this is that you pay well for excellent performance, you don't pay well for non-performance."

Ms Green said: "I am very excited to be joining the team at this time, to lead the business forward as we rebuild shareholder value through innovation and a sustained focus on the needs of our customers, suppliers and employees."

She is also a non-executive director of BAE Systems and the US company Emerson Electric.