Hays Travel names new chief operating officer following death of founder John Hays
Hays Travel has confirmed who will run the firm following the sudden death of founder John Hays.
The much-loved businessman, who began the firm in the backroom of his mum’s clothes shop in Seaham, died aged 71 after collapsing at the company’s head offices in Sunderland on Friday, November 13.
Now the firm has announced experienced staff member Jonathon Woodall has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer to work with the Board and the senior leadership team to take forward the two-year business plan as John and wife Irene intended.
Jonathon joined Hays Travel in 2004 and worked closely with John for more than 16 years.
He has held positions across the group, including Finance Manager, Head of Independence Group and Head of Commercial, and has played a key role in major acquisitions.
Company chair Irene Hays said: “John was proud of the career success of our loyal, committed and talented people.
"Jonathon has excelled since he started, and while the circumstances of his promotion are
not what anyone would have ever wanted, he has the confidence and support of everyone in the business.”
Jonathon added: “I am privileged to take John’s legacy forward alongside all of the people in Hays Travel who want to do the same.
"Although these are challenging times for the travel industry, we have strong plans in place.
“Irene and I will continue to reach for excellence in the way we look after our people, our customers and our suppliers.”
The Board will be further strengthened with the appointment of John Milburn, currently Head of Homeworking and Telesales, who will become Marketing and Homeworking Director, and Mark Hatton, former senior partner at Ernst & Young, in a non-executive role.
They join Irene; Jane Schumm, Director of Retail, and Claire Maith, Group Finance Director.
A Go Fund Me page has been set up to allow anyone wishing to pay tribute to John Hays to donate to the foundation which was one of his proudest achievements.
So far more than £16,000 has been donated to the Hays Travel Foundation which was set up to help young people achieve and be the best that they can be in their health, sport, the arts and education.