Robert Cook, the former CEO at Hotel du Vin and Malmaison, is to take over as chief executive at American-inspired restaurant chain, TGI Fridays, following the departure of Karen Forrester in December after 12 years with the firm.
Cook, who was with HdV and Malmaison before taking on roles with De Vere and Village Urban Resorts, joins the brand from his most recent position as chief executive of Virgin Active gyms where he had been since 2016.
It’s been reported that Forrester, who has spent more than a decade with the business – building it into an operation with 85 sites and a £210m turnover – will leave on December 13, along TGI Fridays’ CFO, HR director and operations director.
She is reported to have “suddenly quit” the business after declining to sign a five-year deal with the chain’s private equity owners Electra, leading to the resignations of the other three directors.
News provider BirminghamLive said the departures come “just weeks before the start of the all-important festive season”.
Cook first worked with Malmaison alongside Ken McCulloch in 1997 and oversaw the purchase of Hotel du Vin as CEO in 2004.
In 2012 he was appointed CEO of Village Hotels and headed up the rebrand to Village Urban Resorts. In the same year he was appointed as CEO of De Vere Hotels.
Cook took over as COO at Macdonald Hotels & Resorts in May 2015.
Speaking on her departure, Forrester was quoted as saying: “It has been an unbelievable honour and privilege to have led the magnificent TGI Fridays UK family over the last 12 years.
“It was an incredibly hard decision to hang up my stripes, but I’m excited to be handing over to new CEO Robert Cook who will steer the company on the next stage of its epic journey.”