Advantage Travel Centres has appointed as its first external non-executive chairman.

Steven Esom, in his role as chairman of the board of directors, will be tasked with improving the effectiveness of the organisation and “leading it through the next stage of development”.

Esom has previously worked as executive director of food at Marks and Spencer, managing director for Waitrose and non-executive director at Carphone Warehouse. He is also currently chairman of BRCT, part of the British Retail Consortium.

He said: “I am thrilled to have been appointed as the first external non-executive chairman of Advantage and although I only have limited travel experience, I am confident I have the right complementary skills to make a positive contribution to the leisure and corporate members of Advantage.

“I have also been impressed by the passion and industry expertise shown by Julia and her team as well as the Advantage board directors; I will be working closely with each of them to ensure I orientate myself in the organisation as quickly as possible.

“Throughout my career I have had the privilege of working for organisations that have quality and service at the core of their businesses; I see so many similar parallels in Advantage that I am eager to exploit.”

Julia Lo Bue-Said, managing director of Advantage, said: “Steven has a track record of working at the highest level in business and will bring a range of skills and fresh vision to Advantage. He is keen to best understand how he can use his business experience to the benefit of the entire organisation.”

Esom will join Advantage on November 1.