Robert Cook has said he is “delighted to be returning to the sector” following his appointment as chief executive of TGI Fridays.
Cook, who will replace Karen Forrester in the role next month, was chief executive of Malmaison and Hotel du Vin for nine years before becoming chief executive of De Vere Hotels Resorts and Village Urban Resorts. He was then chief operating officer at Macdonald Hotels and Resorts before joining Virgin Active four years ago.
He told The Caterer: “I’m very excited and delighted to be back in the sector. I had a great four years at Virgin, but I was looking to come back to hospitality at the right point, for the right thing, and I believe TGI Fridays is the right thing.”
Cook said the fun of the casual dining brand and its people-centric approach had been factors in enticing him: “Everybody has a story about their time at TGI Fridays, either as a customer or an employee. It’s just a fun brand with people at its forefront. I like brands that are people-centric.
“I’m a great believer in talent from within; a great believer that the DNA of a business comes from people. Karen and the whole people development team are fantastic and that should be continued and moved on to the next level.”
Other areas of focus will be technology and ensuring the brand continues to deliver on the core principles that have seen it endure. He added: “The world, not just the sector, is moving quickly in data intelligence and digital customer insight. It’s a big part of the future so that will be a focus.
“Also, customer expectations are only getting higher. It’s a busy market and a competitive market and we have to make sure we deliver the simple things well – the things we are famous for.
“Those things are what we will be focusing on to become more famous for them.”
Cook will take over from Forrester on 13 December.
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