Audley Travel has completed its management team with the appointment of Ian Simkins as chief executive.
The appointment comes after the recent investment in the travel specialist by Equistone Partners Europe.
Simkins has most recently worked as Clubcard director at supermarket giant Tesco and has previously held senior management roles at Tui Travel and Airmiles.
Audley hopes he will bring his extensive knowledge of the travel industry and experience in customer retention and loyalty as it embarks on ambitious expansion plans.
In the newly created role Simkins will work alongside current managing director Chris Mantel and chairman Richard Prosser, who was appointed following the Equistone deal.
Prosser said: “Ian was highly involved in the investment process and has actually been appointed by the founders of Audley and its managing director in conjunction with Equistone.
“We had not been able to announce his appointment until now due to obligations with his current company.”
Prosser said Simkins’ main focus will be on leading new strategic initiatives to grow Audley, while Mantel will focus primarily on developing the core existing business.
Audley staff were told of the appointment late last week and an official announcement is expected to be made later today.
“We were looking for someone who could bring some extra skills to the management team and to focus on growth areas which Audley can expand into.
“Ian also has some good background in customer loyalty having been managing director of Airmiles.
“I’m very confident that the combination of Ian and Chris will create a strong leadership team to both continue the excellent performance of the current business and develop future growth initiatives.”
Simkins’ previous experience also extends to setting up, managing and growing a portfolio of specialist travel companies, including Hayes & Jarvis, Meon Villas, Citalia and Austravel.
He is also a member of the Commercial Board of the Royal Geographical Society.
Audley founder and director, Craig Burkinshaw, said: “Ian has a wealth of experience in growing specialist travel businesses and recognises the importance of excellent service and destination expertise which are both core to Audley’s values. I’m delighted that he’s joining the Audley team.”