InterContinental Hotels Group has appointed the former chief executive of Unilever as the successor to its outgoing chairman, David Webster.
Patrick Cescau will take over from Webster on 1 January next year, having spent 35 years at the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods group, where he held a number of positions including foods director and finance director. Cescau is a familiar figure in the boardrooms of some of Britain’s biggest corporate names, as a non-executive director at Tesco and International Airlines Group, the parent of British Airways. He is also the senior independent director at Pearson, publisher of the Financial Times.
David Kappler, IHG’s senior independent non-executive director, said: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome Patrick to IHG. His extensive international experience and understanding of leading brands will make him ideally qualified to lead our board.”
IHG owns more than 4,500 hotels – or more than 660,000 hotel rooms – in nearly 100 countries, having demerged from the Mitchells & Butlers pubs and restaurant business in 2003.
Cescau said he looked forward to guiding IHG to “ever greater achievements” as the owner of the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza brands expands globally.
IHG is spending $150m (£95.7m) on a new health-focused hotel chain called EVEN, whose rooms will be stocked with exercise balls and wardrobes that will contain pull-up bars. The new brand will open in 2013 in the US but is not set to come to the UK until the end of the decade at the earliest.
Last year IHG saw strong demand in the US and China increase pre-tax profits by 34% to $532m. The US, Asia and Latin America will be the focus of expansion at IHG, with Europe remaining a volatile market.
Webster, who has chaired the IHG board since 2004, said his time at the group had been a “career highlight”. He added: “I leave confident that a strong business with a sustainable growth strategy is in place.”