VIRGIN Active has hired the boss of South African supermarket giant Woolworths to become its new chairman after Richard Baker stepped down from the gym group yesterday.
Simon Susman has replaced him with immediate effect, Virgin Active said. Baker, who has been at the helm of Virgin Active since 2008, was poached this summer to take up the same role at Costa Coffee and Premier Inn owner Whitbread.
Susman is part of a long retailing dynasty. His father David was managing director of Woolworths and his mother Anne Laski was the niece of Sir Simon Marks, son of the co-founder of high street stalwart M&S, on which Woolworths was modelled. Susman started his career at M&S before returning to South Africa to launch and build the Woolworths’ food business in 1982. He served as its chief executive for 10 years until 2010 when he became chairman.