Center Parcs' chairman of 16 years is finally checking out of the UK holiday parks operator ahead of an expected change in ownership.
The private equity-owned group - which is on the watch list for potential initial public offerings this year - said Martin Robinson is vacating the chairman role he has occupied since 1999 and will be replaced by Vagn Sorensen, also chairman of SSP, the London-listed food retailer which operates outlets such as Upper Crust in railway stations.
Leisure analysts have been keeping a close eye on Center Parcs amid expectations that its private equity owner, Blackstone, will press ahead with either an IPO or sale to another private equity group this year. Center Parcs said in March that it was "considering its strategic and financing options, which may include private or public equity or debt capital markets". The company has been valued at up to £2.5bn.
The group further fuelled speculation over an ownership change when it announced in April that it intended to build its first resort in Ireland at a cost of €200m.
Martin Dalby, Center Parcs' long-serving chief executive, said of Mr Robinson's departure:
I would also like to thank Martin Robinson for his support over the past 16 years. He has been an outstanding chairman since 1999, as we have transformed and delivered some major milestones, including the opening of Woburn Forest. On a personal note, I will miss his vigour and passion for the business, but wish him all the best and know we will still see him at Center Parcs regularly.