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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

Jumeirah Group CEO steps down for personal reasons

Stefan Leser joined the company in January 2016 after former boss Gerald Lawless moved upstairs

Above, the Al Qasr hotel operated by the Jumeirah Group in Dubai. Gabriela Maj / Bloomberg
Above, the Al Qasr hotel operated by the Jumeirah Group in Dubai. Gabriela Maj / Bloomberg

Jumeirah Group, the Dubai Holding hospitality company that owns Burj Al Arab, confirmed that its chief executive Stefan Leser has resigned for “purely personal reasons”.

Mr Leser joined the group in January 2016 but he departed in May, after which the group’s chief operating officer Marc Dardenne (who joined Jumeirah Group in September 2016) was appointed as interim group chief executive, according to the group's website.

Jumeirah Group said that “a search for Stefan’s replacement has been initiated” and that in the meantime Mr Dardenne would be running the business together with Dubai Holding’s chief executive Edris Al Rafi, who was appointed in April from Meraas Holding, where he was chief commercial officer.

Mr Al Rafi’s recruitment followed the appointment of Abdulla Al Habbai, also from Meraas Holding, as Dubai Holding's chairman in March. Mr Al Habbai remains chairman of Meraas Holding in addition to his Dubai Holding role.

Mr Leser was recruited in January 2016 as a replacement for Gerald Lawless, who was with Jumeirah Group at its foundation in 1997. He was promoted to Dubai Holding’s corporate office to oversee tourism and hospitality. Mr Lawless worked on establishing the Burj Al Arab as one of the world’s most luxurious hotels and the company’s expansion into overseas markets.

Jumeirah Group said that Mr Leser, who was recruited from Swiss travel giant Kuoni, had been “responsible for overseeing the delivery of the group’s performance and strategic vision”.

“This included important milestone projects such as the Burj Al Arab Terrace and overseeing the completion and launch of Jumeirah Al Naseem, the group’s latest luxury hotel destination at the award-winning Madinat Jumeirah Resort.

“Dubai Holding and Jumeirah Group thank Stefan for his service and contribution to the development of the iconic Jumeirah brand,” it said.

Jumeirah Group operates 22 hotels in nine countries, with flagship properties including the Burj Al Arab and the nearby Madinat Jumeirah resort in Jumeirah, the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers hotel in Abu Dhabi and the Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel in Kuwait.

It also has more than 20 hotels in the pipeline, including eight in China.

Dubai Holding does not provide separate accounts for each of its operating entities, which also include Dubai Properties Group, Tecom Investment, Dubai International Capital and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications - the parent company of telecoms operator du.

However, in February it announced that its main trading business, Dubai Holding Combined Operations Group, grew net profit last year by 8 per cent to Dh6.32 billion on the back of a 16 per cent jump in revenue to Dh16.84bn.

mfahy@thenational.ae