Thomas Cook hires former Sara Lee exec Frank Meysman as chairman

A former executive at the US consumer goods group Sara Lee Corporation has been confirmed as the next chairman of troubled travel group Thomas Cook.

Belgian Frank Meysman (59), who has sat on the boards of a series of international companies, will join the board on October 1 and takes over as chairman from Michael Beckett in December 1.

He has worked for major companies including Procter & Gamble between 1977 and 1986, Douwe Egberts between 1986 and 1990 and Sara Lee between 1990 and 2003, where he was executive vice president and a member of the board from 1997.

Since leaving Sara Lee, he has been a non-executive director, including chairman, of a number of public and private international companies.

Meysman said: “The group currently faces a number of significant challenges, but in the medium to longer-term we will be well positioned to build shareholder value on the back of premium brands and a fine heritage in the UK as well as internationally.”

The appointment is likely to please City institutions who had been calling for new blood on the Cook board after a series of profit warnings prompted a slump in the company’s share price. This resulted in the resignation of former chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa.

Beckett said: “I am pleased to hand over to Frank Meysman following his appointment as our next chairman.

“His experience and knowledge of international markets will be valuable to the droup in the future. I look forward to working with him over the next two months to ensure a smooth transition.”

Commenting on the appointment, Roger Burnell, the senior independent director at Cook said: “Frank’s successful international executive career, coupled with his experience as a non-executive director and chairman makes him an excellent choice for Thomas Cook.”

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