Premier Inn operations director Andrew Francis is joining the Specialist Leisure Group to head its hotel division.

He replaces Vince Flower who recently retired after more than 35 years with the company, previously known as Shearings Leisure Group.

The hotel division covers 44 properties under the Coast & Country Hotels, Bay Hotels and Country Living Hotels brands.

Francis, who has previously held both operational and senior sales roles at Marriott International, said: “I am excited to be joining the team and the business at this important time in the evolution of its three hotel brands.

“We have a real opportunity to build upon everyone’s brilliant work, by further differentiating the brands to meet the needs of a broader mix of business and the growing expectations of our existing clients.”

CEO Richard Calvert said: “I am delighted to have someone of Andrew’s ability and track record joining the Specialist Leisure Group team.

“I’m sure that with his wide range of hotel sector experience he will bring some new ideas into the hotel division, as well as continuing the great job that Vince Flower did over the years for the group.”