SHARES tumbled after Thomas Cook boss Harriet Green unexpectedly quit as chief executive yesterday after just two years in charge of the tour operator.
Ms Green has been widely hailed for her turnaround of Thomas Cook, which was in turmoil and battling for survival when she became chief executive two years ago.
Thomas Cook is now worth almost £2bn (€2.53bn), compared to less than £150m when Ms Green joined from Premier Farnell in 2012. Shares in the company fell 20pc when markets opened yesterday morning as investors questioned the reasons behind her departure. Ms Green is understood to be receiving a pay-off equivalent to six months of her salary and Frank Meysman, chairman of Thomas Cook, said her departure was a "unanimous decision" by the board during a media conference call, which was not attended by the outgoing chief executive.
In a statement announcing her exit, Ms Green said: "I always said that I would move on to another company with fresh challenges once my work was complete. That time is now."
This is in contrast to comments she made at a Management Today conference last week, when she said a turnaround would take six years.
She said: "You can't do a transformation on this sort of scale in a year or two years. I usually say it's about six years. We go to the City next week with our second year of results and to show if and how the company has become fitter and better and we're absolutely not done."