Anne Majumdar

Exciting changes are afoot once again at the Intrepid Group as the company named James Thornton as its new chief executive, a plan that has been on the bubble since splitting from its partnership with TUI 20 months ago.

The company has reported record sales growth of 15 percent across the group since the two parted ways, making it the perfect time for a “smooth” transition, Thornton told KarryOn.

“The Intrepid Group’s future will be more of an evolution than a revolution.”

James Thornton, Intrepid Group CEO

“Things are going really well so I’m not in a rush to go and change anything.”

Thornton confirmed that day to day changes within the company will be minimal. More noticeable will be the raising of his external profile through dealings with the media and partners, continuing the work of his predecessor Darrell Wade who co-founded the company with Geoff Manchester in 1989.

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Growing the market for sustainable travel well into the future is their key objective, Thornton explained.

“Darrel and Manch wanted a successor to grow their vision for the next generation so they wanted someone they would trust with the future of their business,” he said.

At 35, Thornton is well positioned to relate to the company’s clientele which has an average age of 42 group-wide and 37 for the Intrepid Travel business. The average age of the company’s staff is 36.

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“They definitely wanted someone to take the business to the next stage and were also conscious that we are operating in an industry and a time which tends not so much to respect tradition but innovation,” he said.

“So, our job is to continue to evolve with new product, themes, brands and markets.”

There will also be a continued emphasis on operating a company that has a “purpose beyond profit” with both objectives aligning well, according to Thornton.

“Good business today has the potential to fill the void created by some of poor political leadership we are seeing in the world – we can find solutions to some of world’s biggest challenges,” he said, highlighting climate change, migration and diversity issues.

“But to make a really material difference requires scale which means continuing to grow. Growth and purpose can be indelibly linked and businesses with a strong sense of purpose stand a greater chance of success.”

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Thornton described it as a “privilege” to take up the reins from Wade who he said has been a “great mentor” over the years.

Wade now takes on the role of executive chair and will pursue new opportunities such as developing the Chinese market and expanding the new small-ship adventure cruise product under the Peregrine Adventures brand.

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