TUI Travel distribution director Derek Jones has resigned after 20 years with the travel giant.
The company denied speculation of any senior management rift and claimed Jones’ departure – announced on Friday to staff – was “amicable”.
His resignation comes almost a year after the merger of Thomson and First Choice.
Jones has been instrumental in merging the two companies’ distribution businesses, including the shop networks and call centres.
He said he had decided to take six months out before finding another job. “This is my personal decision. I have decided now is a good time to go to pastures new. We have brought the two businesses together and I have got a new baby so now seems the right time to take a break,” he said.
No announcement has been made on a replacement for Jones, although a spokeswoman admitted: “In light of Derek’s departure we need to decide our next steps and these decisions are still being made.”
The company would not comment on rumours Nick Longman, currently director of integration, is being lined up for the job. A memo sent to staff on Friday by UK TUI Travel managing director Dermot Blastland said Jones would be missed and had enjoyed “huge achievements” for the business.
Currently running the shop networks on a day-to-day basis are Kathryn Ward, sales and operations director for Thomson, and Rad Sofronejevic, sales and operations director for First Choice. Helen Deegan is head of trading and retail for First Choice while Natalie Hufton, currently on maternity leave, is her equivalent for Thomson.
Meanwhile, observers claimed Jones’ face no longer fitted with senior management. “They want to have as many First Choice people in there [rather than Thomson] as possible,” said one.
Jones’ previous boss at TUI UK, Peter Rothwell, left TUI Travel at the end of last year following what was believed to be a falling out with TUI Travel boss Peter Long.