U.K. self-storage operator Safestore said good-bye to CEO Peter Gowers on Nov. 1 as he moved on to explore opportunities in the hotel industry. Frederic Vecchioli, former president of the company's Une Piece en Plus business in France, has stepped in as the new chief executive.
An executive board member since 2011 and an employee since 1998, Vecchioli co-founded Une Piece en Plus, which operates 25 self-storage facilities in the Paris area.
Gowers has been named CEO of Travelodge Hotels Ltd., a private company operating in the hotels and hospitality industry throughout the United Kingdom. He is replacing Grant Hearn, who has been with the company since 2003.
Travelodge Hotels Ltd. is under separate ownership from the U.S. chain of the same name. It is the second largest in the budget-hotel sector and the third largest hotel chain in the United Kingdom based on the number of rooms, according to Wikipedia.
Gowers, 41, spent 12 years working in the leisure industry before moving to Safestore in 2011. He will be responsible for returning Travelodge to health following a major financial restructuring last year, according to the source.
Hearn started with the company as CEO, then transitioned to chairman. He was recalled to his position as CEO last year to steer the hotelier through its financial woes, the source said. He announced in July that he wanted to move on from the low-cost hotelier.
In 2012, Hearn guided Travelodge through a debt-for-equity swap, which saw U.S. hedge funds GoldenTree Asset Management and Avenue Capital Group, plus Goldman Sachs, wrest control of the group from Dubai International Capital. Travelodge also went through a company voluntary arrangement.
Before his time at Safestore, Gowers oversaw the Asia-Pacific region for InterContinental Hotels Group. He was also chief marketing officer of that company from 2005 to 2007. He will now work with Brian Wallace, another leisure-industry veteran, who was recruited as chairman of Travelodge in January.
“Peter is a highly regarded senior executive, with extensive industry and market experience and expertise. His skills and knowledge will be a great asset in helping to further grow our business and to make Travelodge the best value hotel chain in the U.K.," Wallace said.
Travelodge’s new owners are investing almost £80 million in a refurbishment program, according to the source. The company made a pre-tax loss of £71.1 million last year.
Safestore operates 135 self-storage facilities, including 98 wholly owned U.K. locations and 25 wholly owned facilities in France. The company also has 12 locations under management in the U.K. It serves approximately 43,700 total customers and employs about 550 people.