From 2009 to July 2014 Iain was Executive Chairman of The Monarch Group leading its modernisation and reshaping into a group of separate, inter-related, industrial businesses having an aggregate turnover of £1billion and 3000 employees.
Following a period of exploratory work with the shareholders by Rawlinson Partners, Iain joined Monarch as Executive Chairman in October 2009.
Based on the foundation of trusted brands and experienced management in the airline, tour operating and engineering businesses, the Group was modernised. By providing clear leadership and good governance from 2009 to 2014 the three separate businesses demonstrated their potential value, realised synergies and achieved a coherent industrial narrative.
In this period the management of the airline was reorganised, and profitable and expanding businesses in tour operating and aircraft engineering were created. The Group raised additional finance in 2009 and 2011 from the shareholders and twice achieved a turnaround from losses to profitability in 2010 and 2013.
From November 2011 during his tenure as Executive Chairman of The Monarch Group Iain led a number of key initiatives – including at Monarch Group, Iain led the successful turnaround to Group profitability over the two financial years to October 2013 and the strengthening of governance through the appointment of experienced senior non-executive directors to the holding company board from 2012, including Sir Roy McNulty, Austin Reid and Graham Atkinson, together with the development of the Group’s finance function with the appointment of Andrew Lavery in May 2014; at divisional level in Monarch Airlines, the restructuring and strengthening of the management team from 2013 with new director level appointments culminating in the appointment of Andrew Swaffield as Managing Director of Monarch Airlines announced in January 2014; in Monarch Airlines, from 2012 the delivery the strategic goal of increasing scheduled services, and the conclusion in June 2014 of a successful competitive 18 month campaign to refleet Monarch Airlines with new technology Boeing aircraft, which included the appointment of Seabury Group to advise on the order size and gauge of aircraft suited to Monarch’s future network; and at divisional level, in Monarch Travel Group to support the installation of the new Travelbox inventory management system and in Monarch Aircraft Engineering to support the strategic development of this business through strategic relationships and the construction of new world class facilities. A key milestone in this period was the creation and launch of The Monarch Foundation in May 2013 which coordinates the many charitable activities of the Group.
After 5 years in this role Iain stood down as Chairman in July 2014.
The UK outbound travel industry in this period was highly competitive while the UK aviation sector overall is one of the most competitive and low margin regional short haul markets in the world, where product differentiation and critical mass are important business foundations.
A main theme in the period to 2014 was to achieve better corporate understanding of the DNA of the Group and its businesses, which centred on the unique characteristic of Monarch’s superior customer service ethos.
Monarch’s leadership on this issue was widely broadcast internally and in the public domain which echoed the changing mood across the industry from 2013. Emphasis was also placed his during his time at Monarch on safeguarding the interests of the employees of the Group, and working towards lower, competitive unit costs in the airline – in spite of an oil price environment of US$115/bbl which prevailed for much of 2013 and 2014.