Intrepid Group appointment to ‘accelerate transformation’

Australian-headquartered Intrepid Group has appointed Michael Burnett as chief financial officer and reshuffled its senior team as it aims to continue its record-breaking growth.

Burnett will join Intrepid in January, 2020, from Australian travel agency network Helloworld, where he oversaw the transformation of the Australian Stock Exchange-listed business.

He will be Intrepid’s first chief financial officer since the company’s return to private ownership in 2015.

James Thornton, chief executive, said: “We have been growing very strongly over the past four years and have been seen four consecutive record years of profitability.

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“In 2018 we made a profit of almost AUD15 million (£8 million) and the business has almost doubled in size since 2015.

“So it’s appropriate to expand our key leadership team as we look ahead to our 2025 strategy.”

It aims to reach revenues of AUD1 billion by 2025 while maintaining its sustainability values as a B Corp certified business.

Thornton added: “As we grow to become a truly global business, we wanted a financial leader who can accelerate our transformation.

“Burnett is the perfect appointment as he has significant global experience in Australia, the US and UK and shares our values to balance purpose and profit.”

Earlier this month Intrepid promoted Brett Mitchell from APAC managing director to chief commercial officer, now responsible for all regional sales and marketing offices.

Other changes will see Natalie Kidd expand her role from managing director of PEAK DMC to become Intrepid’s chief operating officer, and chief purpose officer Leigh Barnes will take on the new role of chief customer officer.

Recruitment for the new role of chief people officer will start by the end of the year.

“The reshuffle will enable us to step up and be more effective with our growth,” said Thornton.

He said Intrepid’s sustainability credentials – supported by its B Corp certification – were a key reason for its success.

“Increasingly consumers want experience over material possessions and they want to buy products from truly sustainable businesses,” he said.

“We have realised over the last couple of years it’s not climate change or global warming – it’s a climate disaster, so we need to do more and we are driving to be climate positive by 2020 rather than climate neutral.”

The UK market is performing well, with sales in 2019 up by 12% year-on-year.

“We continue to be optimistic despite the uncertainty of the Christmas election and Brexit,” he said.

About half of sales in the UK come from travel agents and he hailed Intrepid’s membership of the Association of Touring and Adventure Suppliers.

“When I joined Intrepid 15 years ago, we used to be in a niche market but to see these collectives such as Atas that raise awareness is absolutely fantastic,” he said.

“Travel agents realise it’s not just putting up tents or climbing mountains – it’s about meeting local people and trying local food, in a sustainable manner.

“We remain excited about the opportunities to grow in the UK.”

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