Andy Harrison is to head up Whitbread, parent group of budget hotel chain Premier Inn, when he steps down from his role as easyJet chief executive role this summer.
He will join the group in September before taking over from Alan Parker, chief executive since June 2004, who retires in November.
Harrison, 52, has been easyJet’s chief executive since 2005. It believed he is quitting the low-cost carrier following his public spat with Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou over differences in growth strategies.
Harrison was paid nearly £2.9 million last year, including a £1.22 million payment for agreeing not to leave earlier.
Harrison’s experience expanding the easyJet brand internationally is believed to be the key factor in his appointment, as Whitbread expands Premier Inn and Costa outside the UK.
Premier Inn’s low-cost business model is seen as a neat fit for his low-cost background at easyJet,
Alan Parker is leaving Whitbread in good shape. Today the group reported rising sales for all its three divisions. Premier Inn’s low-cost model proving particularly resilient, with overall growth of 8.5%, with like-for-like sales up 1.7%.
Revenue per available room at Premier Inn ‘showed continued outperformance versus competitors’, with year-to-date regional revPAR down 6.9%, versus a 10.2% fall for regional hotel market as a whole.
Whitbread said the chain’s plan to target the leisure market “aggressively” was progressing well, with its £29 Premier Offers delivering occupancy growth at weekends and during holiday periods.
Premier Inn opened two hotels during the fourth quarter and will end the financial year with a total of 42,799 rooms: 41,720 in the UK and 1,079 overseas.