Eurostar commercial director Nick Mercer is to leave at the end of the year.

Mercer, who has been with the company for 15 years, is to step down on December 31.

He said: “After 15 very enjoyable years, this is the right time for me to be moving on.  I will be leaving the business in a positive position with record sales, a clear strategy for the future and with a strong and motivated team.  I want to thank all our partners in the travel industry who have provided such great support for the business and to me personally.  I know I will miss many of you.”

Chief executive Mike Cooper said: “The Board and I want to thank Nick for the huge contribution he has made to Eurostar over the last 15 years.  During that time Nick has been at the heart of our success and pushed our brand to be a leader in our sector.  We all wish him well for the new challenges he is seeking.”

Mercer’s departure was announced as the high-speed rail operator reported record sales revenues for the third quarter of 2018.

Passenger numbers were up 12% year on year from 2.69 million in 2017 to three million in 2018 and sales revenue have increased by 17%, from £211 million last year to £247 million this year.

The company said the results were driven by the growth in business customers, up by 21% on the same period last year, choosing rail over air travel to get across the Channel.

The hike in US passengers has also continued in the third quarter, up 6% year on year, with visitors attracted to Europe to attend the Ryder Cup golf tournament in Paris in September, according to Eurostar.

The company added that leisure traffic has been boosted by the success of its new service between the UK and the Netherlands, with an extra 130,000 passengers travelling to Amsterdam and Rotterdam by high-speed rail since the launch of the service in April.

Eurostar is introducing a third daily direct service from London in June next year and plans four trains a day once border controls are introduced in the Netherlands at the end of next year, which it hopes will rise to five daily services in the future.

Cooper added: “After a strong summer period the business has continued to perform very well, buoyed up by our new London to Amsterdam service which has transformed travel between these important capital cities.  The potential of our Amsterdam route is significant as the Netherlands is becoming increasingly popular as a business and tourist destination.”