Punch Taverns chief operating officer Adrian Fawcett is stepping down on 30 March to become CEO at General Healthcare Group, a UK private hospital business that owns 50 hospitals in the UK.
The move is regarded by industry sources as an indication that Punch chief executive Giles Thorley is in no hurry to vacate the top job at Punch, for which Fawcett was seen by many as an obvious candidate.
A source close to Punch said: "Adrian is an ambitious guy - he has been offered the fantastic opportunity of a chief-executive position and has had to weigh up when he is likely to get the chief executive job with us."
Fawcett joined Punch in 2003 after spells working at Bass and Ford Motors. He was promoted to the main board at Punch and has
been in charge of the tenanted and leased part of the business.
A Punch colleague said: "Adrian's departure is a sad loss - he is an inspirational guy who has moulded our operations team. He resembles Giles in the sense that you wonder how he absorbs the amount of information he carries in his head. This is a very amicable parting of
Fawcett is credited with ensuring that Punch has maintained its momentum whilst integrating a series of major acquisitions.
He said: "I feel very sad to be leaving Punch - I have enjoyed four tremendous, transformational years with the company.
"I've thoroughly enjoyed working with Giles, but when you receive other offers you have to consider them."
A Punch spokesperson said that structures within its leased and managed businesses are "being aligned".
Deborah Kemp will replace Fawcett as managing director of the leased business.
The new structure means that Punch has two managing directors - Andrew Knight is managing director of the Spirit managed business. Kemp has more than 20 years' experience in the pub industry.
She joined Punch at its inception in 1998 and has held a number of senior positions in the group, including property director.
More recently, she has been working as operations director (south) at Punch.
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