HF Holidays appoints Chris Simmonds as chief executive

HF Holidays has appointed Chris Simmonds to succeed David Harrington as chief executive of the walking specialist.

Simmonds (pictured), currently chief executive of the JG Travel Group, will join HF Holidays on October 1 and “familiarise himself with all aspects of the business” before taking over the reins.

Harrington revealed earlier this year that he would be retiring after 40 years with the operator, which named him chief executive in November 2019.

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Simmonds said he was “very excited” about his new role, adding: “I am fully committed to HF Holidays’ values as a co-operative and very much look forward to leading with colleagues, the board and members to realise its ambitious growth plans.”

Before becoming chief executive at JG Travel Group two years ago, Simmonds held roles in both the travel industry and the not-for-profit sector.

During his time at Saga Holidays, he led marketing, sales and operations before being appointed managing director.

After a decade in the not-for-profit sector providing holidays to people with disabilities and their carers, he returned to Saga Holidays as chief executive in early 2020. He joined the JG Travel Group in May 2022.

Harrington said there would be a “thorough handover process” over the coming months to ensure a seamless transition.

He added: “I’ve had a tremendously fulfilling career at HF Holidays and will miss it, but it is time for me to move on to a new chapter of my life full of fun, friendship and family.”

In his tenure as chief executive, he led HF Holidays through Brexit and the pandemic and also had to grapple with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. He initiated the company’s successful bid for B-Corp certification.

HF Holidays chair Ben Reid said: “On behalf of the board of directors, I would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to David Harrington who has decided to take a well-earned retirement.

“He has worked tirelessly to ensure HF Holidays is a successful and purpose-led organisation and we are confident that we are now in a position to continue the progress we have been making since the pandemic.

“We are delighted to welcome Chris, a proven leader with a passion for travel and a successful career in the travel industry. His experience at Saga will be particularly valuable in understanding our core target market.

“Our comprehensive search process, which emphasised trying to achieve gender balance, received over 300 applicants, demonstrating how positively HF Holidays is viewed across the travel industry.”

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