Alistair Rowland is to join Midcounties Co-operative next month as group general manager for travel services.
Rowland, who will sit on the society’s executive board in the new senior role, was distribution director at The Co-operative Travel but has been on gardening leave since the recent Cook-Co-op joint venture. Thomas Cook has agreed to waive the rest of his six months’ gardening leave to allow him to start in mid-November.
He is the second high-profile figure to be recruited from The Co-operative Travel by Midcounties. Last week the group announced it was taking on Sheena Darby, who worked for Rowland in her role as head of sales and operations for The Co-operative Personal Travel Advisors, to head up its expanding homeworking division.
Midcounties chief executive Ben Reid, who was Rowland’s boss at Holiday Hypermarkets ten years ago, said: “Alistair brings with him a wealth of experience and I’m delighted he’s joining us. Travel is changing significantly and I need someone who is looking over the horizon and thinking about where we take our travel business next. One thing is certain; business will not survive if it stays where it is.”
He added: “It was a positive gesture by Cook to allow Alistair to start in November.”
Rowland will be responsible for developing a retail distribution strategy across Midcounties’ shops, homeworkers and website. His priority will be to put in place a new commercial strategy. As a result of the joint venture, Midcounties will no longer be part of the Co-operative Travel Trading Group, which currently negotiates the group’s commercial deals with suppliers, from the end of March.
Reid said Midcounties could either join an existing consortium such as Advantage or set up its own commercial negotiations with suppliers. “We could create our own commercial department or join a consortium. We need to have an alternative strategy ready,” he said.
Travel general manager Sue Reid, who is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the group’s retail distribution, will report into Rowland.
Last week Midcounties began advertising for an operations manager and a business development manager as it looks to rapidly expand its personal travel advisor team from the current 15 homeworkers.