Former TUI Travel distribution director Derek Jones is to take on the role of distribution director for Kuoni UK from March 1.

Jones had been widely tipped to take on the role following the departure of sales director Manuel Mascarenhas earlier this month after less than a year with the company, and the appointment of former TUI Travel deputy chief executive Peter Rothwell as Kuoni group chief executive from January this year.

Jones – who is well-known among Thomson and First Choice agency staff for his role in overseeing the joint retail network under the merged TUI Travel group – left TUI Travel after 20 years in August last year.

Kuoni issued a statement  today, which said: “Derek is a well-known and highly regarded member of the travel profession with over 20 years’ experience in the industry including over seven years operating at main board level with Lunn Poly, Thomson and TUI UK & Ireland.

“With his strong record of driving growth within an integrated multi-channel environment, Derek represents a strong addition to our senior leadership team.”

Jones will be responsible for Kuoni’s whole distribution network, which includes its own direct-sell shop network, call centre, third-party agent distribution and homeworkers.

The group announced plans to expand its shop chain to add a further six to ten shops to its initial three stores and recruit more personal travel consultants, but has denied any move away from the trade.

More than 60% of Kuoni’s sales are through the trade. Kuoni became a member of the Truly Independent Professional Travel Organisation this month.