Carrie Wicks has left her role as operations director of Firmdale Hotels, after nearly 20 years with the company.
Her departure from the group of nine boutique hotels on Friday was unexpected and sudden. A spokesperson for Firmdale confirmed that she had gone, but was unable to elaborate as to the reason why.
In its most recent set of financial results, for the year ended 31 January 2015, the group reported a 24% increase in revenue to £99.6m. Ham Yard hotel in Soho, London, launched in June 2014, helped drive the boost in figures, achieving sales of just under £2m a month in its first eight months of operation - 20% ahead of budget.
Wicks, winner of the Manager of the Year at the 2009 Catey Awards, completed a HND in catering and institutional management at Oxford Polytechnic (now Oxford Brookes University) before going on to spend 12 years working in restaurants and hotels in Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa.
Upon returning to the UK, she joined Firmdale in 1997 as general manager at the Covent Garden hotel. Within two years, Wicks went on to oversee her first opening at the Charlotte Street hotel. Later, as operations director, she was also responsible for the opening of Knightsbridge, No 16, the Soho and Ham Yard hotels - all in the capital - as well as its first property in New York, Crosby Street. She had been expected to have been involved in the launch of Firmdale's second New York hotel later this year.
One of Wicks' key responsibilities revolved around people development across the 1,200-strong team, without which, she explained, the fantastic product offered by Firmdale wouldn't work.
"My role is all about empowering everyone from room attendants and kitchen porters to general managers," she recently told The Caterer. "I get the best out of them by working with them, not by being dictatorial."
Wicks has also always been a stickler for the highest standards. "Attention to detail is what we thrive on and what guests pick up on," she said. "Every room has got to be pristine. It takes our room attendants one to one and a half hours to clean each one.
"Kit does the design. I have to make sure that operationally the rest of the team match that with the very best service. One won't work without the other."
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Manager of the Year - Cateys 2009 >>