Travelodge chief executive Peter Gowers to step down

27 November 2020 by
Travelodge chief executive Peter Gowers to step down

Travelodge chief executive Peter Gowers is stepping down from his role at the end of the year to "move onto a new challenge".

Gowers will remain as an adviser to the group into the new year to support the transition. The company said it will commence the process to appoint a successor, until which time chief operating officer Craig Bonnar will become interim chief executive.

Director Stephen Shurrock said: "Travelodge has been transformed under Peter's leadership and the board would like to thank him for his significant contribution to the group's consistently class-leading performance. He leaves behind a strong business and a legacy of success. We wish him well for the future.

"With the recently completed arrangements to strengthen the business following the Covid-19 situation and an experienced management team with a proven track record, the company is in a strong position to move into the new year. Craig Bonnar will bring a wealth of experience to the role of interim chief executive and further announcements regarding the permanent succession arrangements will be made in due course."

Gowers said: "It has been a privilege to lead Travelodge over the last seven years. We have an amazing team of dedicated colleagues and the tremendous success that the business has enjoyed is a reflection of their dedication and hard work.

"While the time is right for me to now move onto a new challenge, Travelodge is strongly positioned to benefit from the opportunities that arise over the years ahead, and with a great and experienced team in place, it is well-placed to continue to grow as the recovery continues."

Gowers was appointed to head up Travelodge as chief executive in 2013, replacing industry stalwart Grant Hearn.

He steered Travelodge into calmer waters having taken the helm just a year after it had been on the brink of collapse, with a debt of £635m. He came into the business soon after Travelodge was acquired from Dubai International Capital by American hedge funds Avenue Capital and GoldenTree Asset Management in partnership with US bank Goldman Sachs. The trio of businesses secured the future of Travelodge by initiating a debt-for-equity swap and company voluntary arrangement (CVA).

An ambitious five-year plan saw turnover increase more than £250m to £680.2m, however Travelodge has been no stranger to the devastating impact Covid-19 restrictions have had on the industry. The group has said 2020 revenue could be half that of 2019, and sales could face a hit of £6m-£7m. It underwent a second CVA this summer which saw it agree temporary rent reductions with landlords of up to £140m through to the end of 2021.

The CVA included a break clause allowing landlords to terminate leases and re-let the hotels without penalty, with a deadline for the majority of 18 November. Despite fears an exodus of hundreds of landlords could seriously weaken the brand, with competing bids launched for leases to tempt disgruntled landlords, AGO Hotels has secured nine Travelodge leases and Premier Inn owner Whitbread snapped up two further properties, while Travelodge retained 578 of its 592 hotels.

The deadline for 36 other hotels is 31 December 2021. According to Travelodge, 13 have confirmed they wish to stay and two have left, leaving 21 to consider their options.

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