JOHN HAYS 1949-2020

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Woodall steps up to COO at Hays

Hays Travel has promoted Jonathon Woodall to chief operating officer following the death of founder and managing director John Hays. He will work with the

Hays Travel board and senior leadership team to pursue the two-year business plan John and Irene Hays had put in place. Woodall joined Hays Travel

in 2004 and worked closely with John Hays during his stints in positions including finance manager, head of Independence Group (IG) and, most recently, head of commercial. The company said he had played a key role in major acquisitions. Chair Irene Hays said: “John

was proud of the career success of our loyal, committed and talented people. Jonathon has excelled since he started, and while the circumstances of his promotion are not what anyone would have ever wanted, he has the confidence and support of everyone in the business.” Woodall said: “I am

privileged to take John’s legacy 4

forward alongside all of the people in Hays Travel who want to do the same. Although these are challenging times for the travel industry, we have strong plans in place. “Irene and I will continue to

reach for excellence in the way we look after our people, our customers and our suppliers.” Head of homeworking

and telesales John Milburn will become marketing and homeworking director and join the board, as will Mark Hatton, former senior partner at Ernst & Young, who takes a non-executive role. They join Irene Hays, retail

director Jane Schumm and group finance director Claire Maith on the board. Paying tribute to John Hays,

the company said: “He was proud of his loyal staff who, under the direction of the board and senior management team, will ensure the business continues to serve the customers of the UK’s largest independent travel agent as he would have wanted.”

Trade pays tribu the industry’s gr

The industry has paid tribute to John Hays after the founder of the UK’s largest agency, Hays Travel, died suddenly on Friday. Hays, 71, grew the business from

a single agency in the back of his mother’s clothes shop in Seaham, County Durham, in 1980 to a network of more than 650 branches, a workforce of almost 5,000 staff and a turnover last year of £1.1 billion. Hays Travel was already the

biggest independent agency, with almost 200 stores, before its acquisition of Thomas Cook’s retail estate last year created national headlines, made it the UK’s largest travel retailer, saved 2,300 travel agents’ jobs and created 500 more. The company also has a 400-agent homeworking division, in addition to the Hays Travel Independence Group (IG) consortium, which Hays founded in 1995 and which has more than 100 agency members. Tributes poured in from business

John was a huge

advocate for the high street agent, a travel industry champion and a true gentleman

collapsed at Hays Travel’s Sunderland head office, “doing the job he loved”. Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer


said: “John was a major figure in the travel industry and created one of the industry’s most successful companies.” Andy Cohen, head of

Atol at the Civil Aviation Authority, said: “He was a man of integrity and a very

successful businessman who loved the travel industry. He was always a pleasure to be around, and I know he will be missed by many.” Travel Counsellors founder David

partners, and rivals, immediately after the company confirmed Hays had

19 NOVEMBER 2020

Speakman said the Cook acquisition took “courage and commitment”, adding: “As an independent he dominated the high street.”

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