26 April 2017, Written by David Simmons


ARDENT LEISURE, the parent company of Gold Coast's Dreamworld theme park, has reshuffled its core leadership with CEO Deborah Thomas removed from the top job.

The company announced that Thomas has been "transitioned" to the role of Chief Customer Officer (Group) and Chief Operating Officer (Australasia) of Ardent Leisure Group.

She will be succeeded by Simon Kelly as CEO and MD, commencing 1 July 2017.

The changes were announced six months after the tragic deaths of four people on the Thunder River Rapids ride at the Dreamworld theme park.
Since the deaths, the park has struggled to sustain attendance, especially over the busy summer period.

In a statement from Ardent Leisure, Thomas' new role will focus on "overseeing the recovery and revitalization of Dreamworld".

Thomas will retain her seat on the Ardent Leisure executive board.

There were rumours of a major shake-up in management in March when Ariadne's Garry Weiss and Queensland property billionaire Kevin Seymour announced they had acquired nearly 6 per cent of Ardent Leisure stock.

At the time Weiss said he would be holding discussions with the Ardent board "in the near term".

Thomas' replacement, Simon Kelly, was previously COO and CFO at Nine Entertainment Co. and has also held senior executive roles at Goodman Fielder, Aristocrat Leisure, and Virgin Australia.

Kelly's departure from Nine in January 2016 made him the highest-paid local media executive in fiscal 2016 after a payout of $2.2 million.

Ardent Leisure Group Chairman, George Venardos says Kelly is ready to take on the role with guidance from Thomas during the transition.

"We are pleased to announce this significant boost to our management team," says Venardos.

"Simon, who will transition to the role over the next few months with the support of Deborah brings to the Group a wealth of experience in the management of multinational operations, financial control and the entertainment sector."

The executive reshuffle has also seen the resignation of Richard Johnson as Chief Financial Officer of the group.

Johnson tendered his resignation for personal reasons, in order for him to return to the UK to be with family.

Kelly will lead the process to find a successor to Johnson.

Business News Australia

Author: David Simmons





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