'Time was right to step down', says Travel Counsellors chairman Speakman

'Time was right to step down', says Travel Counsellors chairman Speakman

Travel Counsellors founder David Speakman said the time was right to step down as chairman of the leading independent travel agency.

Speakman, who lives in Spain, informed the company of his intentions two months ago and told the 1,400 home-based agents in the company two weeks ago.

He told Travel Weekly he was “enjoying retirement”.  Speakman and his wife Maureen remain significant shareholders in the business having sold a majority stake to Equistone Partners last year.

However, with the day to day running of the business already in the hands of his management team headed by managing director Steve Byrne, he will take more of a back seat.

Speakman said he does not plan to attend Travel Counsellors’ annual conference attended by more than 800 agents plus suppliers and sponsors.

“This is just a natural progression, it’s not been sudden,” Speakman said. “It’s not a big step because I’ve been taking a lot of little steps away from the business before.

“What’s important is the DNA of the business, and that’s in safe hands. I think you have to give the management a clear way ahead. It’s the right time.”

Travel Counsellors marked its 20 year anniversary last year and now operates in six overseas markets including South Africa, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Australia and United Arab Emirates.

In a statement Travel Counsellors confirmed there would be no other management changes:

“David still has the same investment in the company as he did when the company announced the MBO without the formal responsibility of the Chairman role, as he takes a back seat in the running of the business.

“The management team remains the same, under the continued leadership of managing director Steve Byrne.”

Speakman’s note to agents said: “I now think it appropriate to take a back seat in the business and I have therefore decided to resign as Chairman. The family still retains a substantial shareholding and investment in the company.

"Since Maureen and I created Travel Counsellors over 20 years ago, it has been a fantastic journey of emotional fulfilment and we are blessed with so many memories and friends made along the way with Travel Counsellors, staff and their families. 

“I would like to thank everyone involved in enabling us to create such a special company, and I am sure it will continue to go from strength to strength.

“I wish everyone, the directors, staff and the whole family of Travel Counsellors continued success and happiness and I know the special company we have built together will continue to grow and change people’s lives for the better for many years to come."

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