SSP CEO Simon Smith has advised the board of his intention to step down from his role to pursue a new opportunity at a private equity-backed business.
He is expected to leave the group at the end of 2021 and, in the intervening period, will continue with his existing responsibilities and support an orderly transition.
The board will now commence a process to identify his successor, and the search process will consider both internal and external candidates.
SSP has been hit hard by the Covid pandemic due to the downturn in international travel and commuters. Most of its operations are based at rail stations, airports and travel hubs.
Mike Clasper, chairman of the Board, said: “Throughout the past 16 months, Simon and our executive team have done an excellent job in steering SSP through the enormous challenges presented by the pandemic, acting very rapidly to protect the business and its cash flow, create a more flexible operating model and strengthen the balance sheet.
“SSP has a very clear strategy and significant competitive strengths, placing it in an excellent position to take advantage of the many opportunities for growth that will be presented by the recovery in the travel sector.”
In its group interim results last month, the business said it had begun to see a recovery in passenger demand, led by domestic and leisure travel, most notably in North America.
Current trading is in line with expectations, with third quarter sales at 27% of 2019 levels, and sales in the most recent week at 42% of 2019 levels, compared with 30% at the beginning of June.
The outlook for the rest of the financial year remains unchanged.