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Compass confirms replacement after tragic death of CEO Richard Cousins

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Compass confirms replacement after tragic death of CEO Richard Cousins

Compass Group has confirmed that Dominic Blakemore will take on the role of chief executive earlier than planned following the tragic death of Richard Cousins.

Cousins died on New Year’s Eve when a seaplane he was travelling in with his two sons, his fiancé and her daughter went down in the Hawkesbury River, near the suburb of Cowan in Australia, killing all occupants. The family had been returning from a restaurant in Jerusalem Bay.

The crash killed all six occupants of the seaplane, including the pilot.

Compass Group chairman Paul Walsh said yesterday: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news. The thoughts of everyone at Compass are with Richard’s family and friends, and we extend our deepest sympathies to them.

“It has been a great privilege to know Richard personally and to work with him for the last few years. Richard was known and respected for his great humanity and a no-nonsense style that transformed Compass into one of Britain’s leading companies.”

Cousins was appointed group chief executive of Compass in 2006, following six years as CEO of building materials company BPB.

He was due to step down as chief executive in March and retire from the group in September, but following his untimely death the succession plan has been accelerated and Blakemore will now take charge immediately.

Compass Group said in a statement: “Richard Cousins retirement was planned for 31 March 2018. As a result of his sad death in a plane accident on 31 December 2017, Dominic Blakemore’s appointment as chief executive will be advanced from 1 April 2018 to 1 January 2018.”

A graduate of Sheffield and Lancaster universities, Cousins started his career in the group operational department of Cadbury-Schweppes, where he was involved in market research, manufacturing planning and investment appraisal.

In 1990, he took a strategic planning position with BPB, a plasterboard and plaster manufacturer, making chief executive in 2000. Cousins propelled BPB into the FTSE 100, almost quadrupling its market capitalisation from £1b-plus to almost £4b. He famously forced French company Saint-Gobain to increase its takeover bid from 675p to 775p a share, finally selling BPB for £3.9m in December 2005.

Cousins joined Compass as group chief executive in May 2006.

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