Varney, who has more than 30 years’ experience in the leisure industry, will also join the nomination committee and the remuneration committee.
Marston’s chair William Rucker said he was “delighted” to welcome Varney to the Marston’s board. "Under his stewardship, Merlin Entertainments has become a world-class international business with customer experience at its core, delivering digital transformation through customer-friendly platforms,” he said.
He continued: “This, together with his brand-building insight and expertise in building a diverse portfolio of family-based leisure brands and attractions, will be invaluable to Marston’s at this exciting juncture.
Looking back at Varney's career
“We very much look forward to working with Nick and benefiting from his highly complementary skillset.”
Having started his career in consumer goods marketing, initially with Nestle Rowntree (1084 to 1988) then with Reckitt & Colman (1988 to 1990), Varney went on to hold senior positions in the Tussauds Group (Pearson), before becoming Vardon Attractions managing director and a Vardon main board director (1995 to 1999).
In 1999, Varney led the management buyout of Vardon Attractions to form Merlin Entertainments, driving the company’s dynamic growth strategy through several private equity partnerships, and a successful IPO in 2013 as a FTSE 250 constituent company through to its subsequent privatisation in 2019.
Under his leadership, Merlin continues to grow, and currently operates 136 theme parks and attractions, as well as hotels and holiday villages in 24 countries across four continents.
Last winter, Marston’s launched what it called a “game-changing” deal for operators, through a new initiative that replaces the traditional rental model with a turnover based agreement.
The initiative, named ‘Pillar’, is being led by John Green, head of operations and Ed Hancock, operations director.
The deal will see operators offered pubs with no rental costs, with the relationship run on a shared-turnover basis, with the licensee and Marston’s sharing a flexible percentage of the turnover across three steams, wet, dry and accommodation, where an accommodation offer is in place.