Upper Crust and Ritazza owner SSP today said that chief executive Simon Smith would leave the firm at the end of the year.
The firm said that Smith was departing to join a private equity-backed firm.
SSP has started the search for a successor for Smith, who joined the business in 2014 and became chief executive in 2019.
His tenure has coincided with the worst downturn on record for the travel industry, which has hammered SSP, which runs food outlets at train stations and airports.
In its first half results, announced last month, the firm fell to an underlying pre-tax loss of £182m compared with a £10.7m loss in the same period in 2020.
When the pandemic struck last year, SSP was forced to shut around 2,500 outlets, furlough over 22,000 employees and cut 14,000 jobs.
Despite this, the business said that it was beginning to see nascent signs of recovery.
At the moment, third quarter sales are at 27 per cent of 2019 levels, and sales in the most recent week at 42 per cent of 2019 levels, compared with 30 per cent at the beginning of June.
Mike Clasper, Chairman of the Board, said, “Throughout the past 16 months, Simon and our Executive team have done an excellent job in steering SSP through the enormous challenges presented by the pandemic, acting very rapidly to protect the business and its cash flow, create a more flexible operating model and strengthen the balance sheet.
“SSP has a very clear strategy and significant competitive strengths, placing it in an excellent position to take advantage of the many opportunities for growth that will be presented by the recovery in the travel sector.”