Hostelworld close to new finance chief as CEO quits

By Geoff Percival

Online accommodation booking company Hostelworld is understood to be closing in on finding a replacement for chief financial officer Mari Hurley, who announced her resignation late last year.

Her replacement is expected to be announced within weeks of new chief executive Gary Morrison formally taking over the running of the Dublin-headquartered company next month.

Mr Morrison — who has filled various roles with global travel company Expedia over the past seven years —will succeed outgoing CEO Feargal Mooney after Hostelworld’s agm, in Dublin, on June 11. 

The departure of Mr Mooney — who has been with the company for 16 years and was chief executive for 10 — was announced yesterday; along with the identity of his replacement.

Hostelworld’s share price closed 0.6% down in London — where most of the stock’s trading takes place — but had dropped by over 3% in earlier trading in response to the announcement.

Last month Hostelworld said it grew earnings by 13% last year to €26.4m and saw revenues jump 8% to nearly €87m. 

While it said the introduction of its new free cancellations service to customers would bring a one-time hit to earnings this year, the company said the move would ultimately boost the company. 

Overall bookings last year grew by 6%.

It is understood Mr Mooney has been considering his future for some time and has taken the decision to stand down due to time constraints on his personal and family life. 

It is also believed that Mr Mooney has no immediate corporate plans beyond seeing out his tenure.

“Feargal has been speaking with me and the board about his plans for the long-term and, consequently, some months ago we focused our attentions on succession to facilitate an orderly transition,” said Hostelworld chairman Michael Cawley.

Hostelworld’s succession plan was welcomed by analysts, with Davy Stockbrokers saying: “(Mr) Morrison brings with him a wealth of experience in online travel as he was the head of EMEA and, subsequently, global head of retail operations at Expedia... His track record of growth in online businesses places Hostelworld in good stead for its next phase of growth.”

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