Bus and coach operator National Express has today appointed a new chief executive as it seeks to move forward amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Jose Ignacio Garat will take the top job at the FTSE 250 company from the 1 November, with interim chief exec Chris Davies remaining as group finance director.
Davies was appointed after housebuilder Persimmon poached Dean Finch after a decade at the transport firm.
Garat previously held senior roles at delivery firms Fedex and TNT. His latest role at the former was senior vice president Southern Europe, France and Benelux operations.
He said: “I have watched National Express Group’s growth in recent years to become the leader in its sector, so it is a privilege to be given the opportunity to lead the company as it navigates the pandemic and positions itself for future growth.
“National Express has an international portfolio of market-leading businesses and a strong reputation for service and safety excellence.”
Last month the firm said it was “resolutely optimistic” about its long-term outlook after reporting better-than-expected trading in September.
The coach operator said it was performing “slightly better” than its previously announced base case, which assumed revenue to be 50 per cent lower until the end of August.
It said it had seen strong passenger growth in the UK, with services in the West Midlands and Dundee operating at roughly last year’s level.
According to figures from the Department for Transport (DfT), regional bus passenger numbers were at 59 per cent of pre-pandemic levels on 5 October.
National Express’ chairman Sir John Armitt said he was “delighted” to welcome Garat to the group.
“Ignacio has the extensive international operational and strategic experience to lead National Express Group through the challenges presented by the pandemic, as well as the significant future opportunities that exist.
“Ignacio’s track-record of focusing on safety, operational excellence and strong financial performance, aligns closely with National Express Group’s priorities”, he added.
Shares in the firm dropped 2.6 per cent this morning.