A senior management reshuffle at Riviera Travel has seen Jim Forward take on the newly-created role of chief commercial officer.

He steps up following the departure of marketing director Ben Hitchcock after five years.

Forward is former chief executive of walking specialist HF Holidays, managing director of Warner Leisure Hotels and sales and marketing director at Butlin’s.

He will be responsible for product development, commercial negotiations with suppliers, operations, customer insight and marketing.

Forward has been with the Burton-on-Trent based touring and river cruise operator for two years, responsible for product development and operations.

Riviera chief executive Phil Hullah said: “Combining all commercial, product and marketing responsibilities into a single customer focused role ensures we can react quickly to our guests changing needs and land the right messages of reassurance and inspiration at the right times.

“I am delighted that Jim has accepted this challenge – he has a wealth of experience and is uniquely placed to drive our future success.

“I also want to pay tribute to Ben Hitchcock who after five years as our marketing director decided that he wanted to leave the business.

“Ben delivered transformational change – in particular, he led the rapid growth of our direct channel, the development of our digital capability and the evolution of our brand.”

Hullah added: “These are challenging times, but I am confident about Riviera’s future. Our team have been curating and delivering exceptional holidays for over 36 years. We have a top-quality award-winning brand recognised by customers for providing exceptional service and travel experiences.

“With fully funded plans that assume only a gradual return to travel during 2021, and with the right people, product and promotion, we will take full advantage of the pent-up demand for travel next year.  Indeed, our 2021 season is already nearly 80% sold.

“We value the special relationship we have with our customers and have been heartened by the hundreds of messages of support we have received from our customers during the last few months.

“We are incredibly grateful for their ongoing loyalty and take great encouragement from their continued desire to explore the world as soon as is possible so to do.”