Outgoing Shearings chief executive Denis Wormwell plans to stay in the travel industry in non-executive roles after stepping down from the touring and hotel operator.

Speaking to Travel Weeklyahead of his departure at the end of the year after nine years in the role, he said he already has “several irons in the fire” and is close to announcing one of his new non-executive director roles.

Wormwell, 55, who started his travel career as a Club 18-30 rep in 1986 and went on to work for companies including Sunset, Thomas Cook and National Express, said: “I have been planning my departure for some time and feel like I have a new lease of life.

“I have enjoyed it at Shearings but this is a great time for me to move and do other things. I would like to sit on a few different boards and I think I have a lot to offer travel companies after a 30 year career. It would be nice to use my experience in some way.”

Wormwell already holds two non-executive directorships, one at Visit England, and another outside travel for Uniformed Brands Limited.

He added he was confident he was leaving Shearings in a “fantastic place”, well-positioned for growth, having helped change perceptions of the brand. Wormwell led the management buyout of the business from 3i in 2014 and the subsequent sale to Lone Star Funds earlier this year.

The company owns coaches as well as 48 hotels and runs its own tour operation. It takes 1.1 million customers away annually and has a repeat customer rate of 64%.

Wormwell said: “Shearings was seen as a transport business, no-one saw it as a hotel business. It’s been nice to reposition the business and raise its profile, and see people so proud of the business.

“I have had emails from hotel managers thanking me for changing the fuddy-duddy perceptions of the brand.

“We have now got new shareholders who have got big plans and deep pockets and we have worked with them on the growth plan. There is a great opportunity for the business to grow. It’s a case of doing what we do now but even better.”

Chief financial officer and deputy chief executive Gary Speakman assumes the chief executive role on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is announced next year.