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On The Beach shares slip after founder reveals exit plan

The founder of On The Beach has announced plans to step down as chief of the holiday giant, with its finance chief set to take over the helm.

Shares in the company slumped after it told shareholders that Simon Cooper will step down as chief executive in the next year.

Mr Cooper, who remains a significant shareholder, founded the business in 2004 and said he will remain “actively involved” with the business.

Shaun Morton, who is currently the group’s chief financial officer, will take over as CEO once the firm recruits a new finance boss.

Mr Cooper said: “On the Beach has had an amazing journey in the 18 years since I founded it and I feel that now is the right time to hand over the reins to my successor.

“I am confident that Shaun is the right person to guide On the Beach through the next phase of growth and take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead.”

Mr Morton added: “I am honoured and excited to take over from Simon as CEO of On the Beach, a company that he started from nothing nearly two decades ago.

“The travel industry is constantly evolving and I am confident that On the Beach’s flexible model will continue to win market share while delivering excellent value for our customers.”

The news came as the Manchester-based, online, travel agent said pre-tax profits hit £2.1 million for the year ended September 30, swinging from a loss of £36.7 million in the previous year.

This was driven by a surge in revenues to £144.3 million, compared with £21.2 million in the previous pandemic-ravaged year.

On The Beach said recent trading has seen strong trading in premium holidays as customers sought to book more four and five star holidays after years of disruption to travel plans.

“2022 has been a year of strategic progress for the group,” Mr Cooper added.

“Despite a number of well-documented headwinds faced by the entire industry, including the disruption caused by Omicron in the key booking period of January, the group reported double digit growth in group sales, returned to profitability and exited the year in a strong cash position.”

Shares were down 8.8% at 114p.