Ex-Morrisons boss in surprise landing as DAA's new CEO
Aviation insiders were caught off-guard yesterday as the DAA revealed former Morrisons and Brown Thomas boss Dalton Philips as the new chief executive of the semi-state group that operates Dublin and Cork airports.
Mr Philips, who grew up in Co Wicklow, succeeds former Glanbia executive Kevin Toland, who's leaving next week to begin a new role as chief executive of troubled Swiss-Irish baked goods group Aryzta.
Mr Philips will join the DAA on October 2 for a seven-year term. The DAA also announced yesterday that the first direct service between Ireland and the Asia-Pacific region will start next year, with Cathay Pacific launching a route between Dublin and Hong Kong.
Mr Philips' retail background suggests that the DAA could see significant scope to expand the airport group's own retailing activities at home and abroad.
Its international arm, ARI International, has been successful in securing contracts to operate duty-free units in airports around the world.
This year alone, ARI won a contract to operate new outlets at the King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It also retained a contract to operate services at the Rqaffic Harri Airport in Beirut.
Last year, ARI won a contract to operate the duty-free concession at the new Muscat International Airport in Oman for 10 years, and also won a 10-year duty free contract at Abu Dhabi airport's new terminal.
Mr Philips was chief executive of Morrisons until early 2015, when he was ousted from Britain's fourth-largest supermarket chain after five years in the role.
In the face of brutal competition, particularly from German chains Lidl and Aldi, Morrisons had failed to stem a decline in sales that was worse than those experienced by rivals such as Tesco.
Mr Philips joined Morrisons from Canadian supermarket group Loblaw in 2015.
After graduating from UCD, he worked in New Zealand, Brazil, Spain and Germany before retuning to Ireland in 2005 to run Brown Thomas, the department store owned by the billionaire Weston family, which also controls Loblaw.
Mr Philips is also a non-executive director at Irish plastics firm One51.
Also on the One51 board is Rose Hynes, the chairman of Shannon Group, which controls Shannon Airport. Ms Hynes is also a board member at Total Produce, where Kevin Toland is a non-executive director.
Mr Philips takes over at the DAA as Dublin Airport expects to see passenger numbers surge to a record 30 million this year.