Intrepid Group’s new CEO is a familiar face

Intrepid Group’s new CEO is a familiar face

TORONTO — Intrepid Group has announced a young successor to take over the reins of Chief Executive Officer duties from co-founder Darrell Wade. Although new to the role, the newly appointed CEO is a familiar face to both the company and the travel industry at large: it’s 35-year-old James Thornton, former Managing Director of Intrepid Group.

Thornton is now officially the first non-founding CEO of the Intrepid Group, which employs 1,600 staff in 27 offices and is regarded as the world’s largest provider of adventure travel experiences. Wade has been named the new Executive Chair of the company.

As CEO, Thornton has been tasked with managing day-to-day operations, developing the Chinese market and further expanding the company’s new small-ship adventure cruise product. He will be based in Intrepid’s Melbourne office.

A British expat, Thornton joined Intrepid Travel 12 years ago as U.K. Sales & Marketing Coordinator and rapidly progressed through various roles until eventually becoming Managing Director of Intrepid Travel in 2012. The following year, he was named Managing Director of the newly formed Intrepid Group.

The appointment comes 20 months after Wade and fellow co-founder Geoff Manchester split from a partnership with TUI and bought back Intrepid Travel, along with the rest of the Group. Since the split, the company has seen record sales, up 15% across the Group. Newly independent Intrepid has also moved to new offices in Melbourne and London, paid company-wide bonuses, and raised more than AUD$1 million for charities.

“The growth that James has helped the business to achieve over the past 20 months reassured us that we have a sustainable future ahead, that purpose beyond profit can be profitable,” said Wade. “We’ve learnt that it’s crucial to find people who share your vision and values, which is why the time is now right to hand over the reins for the next generation. I have every confidence that James will build on what we’ve created.”

Added Thornton: “It’s a privilege to be able to lead Intrepid into the future. We have a responsibility to support the communities in the destinations where we operate. I believe business can be a force for good and now that we have a sustainable business model, we’ll be even more actively pursuing our growth with purpose.”

Look out for Travelweek’s one-on-one interview with Thornton in the upcoming April 13 edition of Travelweek.

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