Kuoni UK managing director Sue Biggs has stepped down after 25 years on the eve of a major restructuring by the company’s Swiss parent Kuoni Travel Holding Ltd.

Deputy UK managing director and finance director Mark Norman will be acting MD until a successor is found.

Biggs wrote a heartfelt message to industry colleagues after the news. In it she said: “These have been 25 incredible years. It’s been exciting, challenging, fun, and occasionally very sad when we had to cope with disasters such as 9/11 and the tsunami. But even during the tough times it was rewarding.”

Biggs, MD for the last eight years and the only female on the board, is taking time out to decide her next move.

A spokesman admitted Biggs’ departure was “not absolutely linked to the reorganisation”, but would not comment on whether it was related to Kuoni’s UK performance. No other management changes or job losses are being considered.

The move comes as Kuoni restructures itself from a geographical-based business into three strategic business divisions: ‘Style’, for brand and service-driven products; ‘Smart’, for budget packages; and ‘Destinations’, for local land arrangements. The groups are headed up by Reto Wilhelm, Stefan Leser and Rolf Schafroth, respectively. Kuoni UK will be assimilated into Style immediately.

Kuoni has also founded a group called Business Unit Spirit to house companies with strong growth potential, such as operator Shoestring International.

A spokesman said Kuoni was merely adapting to meet the changing needs of customers and tougher market conditions.

Despite the new structure Kuoni will continue to look at strategic acquisitions. Earlier this month the Kuoni Group bought villa and ski chalet specialist CV Travel, adding to last year’s haul of Journeys of Distinction and Kirker Holidays.

From the Travel Weekly Blog