Compass says Dominic Blakemore has taken charge at the world’s largest contract catering firm following the tragic death of chief executive Richard Cousins.
Mr Blakemore had been due to succeed Mr Cousins following his planned retirement in March but the FTSE 100 company confirmed on Tuesday the appointment had been brought forward.
Mr Cousins, 58, was killed in a seaplane crash in Australia on New Year’s Eve, along with his fiancee Emma Bowden, 48, his two sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and Ms Bowden’s 11-year old daughter Heather.
The plane came down in the Hawkesbury River off Jerusalem Bay in Sydney after picking the family up from an exclusive restaurant.
Video: Five Britons have died in a light aircraft crash in Australia
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The five were on a holiday that also enabled Mr Cousins to indulge his passion for cricket by taking in the current Ashes series between England and Australia.
After the accident, the company confirmed: “It is with deep sadness that we can confirm that our group chief executive, Richard Cousins, and four members of his close family have died in a plane accident.”
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Paul Walsh, Compass group chairman, said: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news.
“The thoughts of everyone at Compass are with Richard’s family and friends, and we extend our deepest sympathies to them.
“It has been a great privilege to know Richard personally and to work with him for the last few years.
Terribly sad to read about Richard Cousins, his two boys, the new love of his life and her daughter. All killed in Sydney seaplane. Such an able man, and a hugely respected CEO of Compass. RIP.
— Rupert Soames (@rsoames) January 1, 2018
“Richard was known and respected for his great humanity and a no-nonsense style that transformed Compass into one of Britain’s leading companies.”
Mr Cousins’ counterpart at Serco, Rupert Soames, was among others to pay tribute: “Such an able man, and a hugely respected CEO of Compass. RIP,” he wrote on Twitter.
Compass added on Tuesday: “Richard Cousins’ retirement was planned for 31 March 2018.
Image: Dominic Blakemore was an internal appointment at Compass. Pic: Compass
“As a result of his sad death in a plane accident on 31 December 2017, Dominic Blakemore’s appointment as chief executive will be advanced from 1 April 2018 to 1 January 2018.”
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Mr Blakemore had been the company’s chief operating officer for Europe.
Compass shares were 0.7% lower in early deals when trading resumed on Tuesday following the New Year break.