Jeff Hart, managing director of Freedom Leisure for the past 11 years, is retiring from his post in September.
Mr Hart who has led the leisure trust since its formation, has seen it grow from operating four sites for Wealden District Council in 2002, including Uckfield, to running 34 sites with a £40 million turnover operation.
Major and prestigious contract wins and acquisitions across the South East have seen total employee numbers grow from 250 to more than 2,500 and the trust has reinvested more than £12 million in facilities and services during that time.
Mr Hart said: “I leave a fantastic, talented team behind at Freedom, and both a robust financial position and a strong reputation for the Freedom brand. I am certain the company will continue to go from strength to strength under new leadership.”
Freedom Leisure chairman, Alan Rutherford praised Mr Hart’s “inspirational leadership, industry knowledge, skills, and personal qualities, which had been instrumental in securing the company’s recognition as one of the top leisure trusts in the UK”.
New managing director is to be Ivan Horsfall-Turner, currently Freedom Leisure’s business development director.
Mr Rutherford said: “Ivan has been a key member of the executive team over the past 11 years and is seen as the perfect successor to take the company forward.”
Mr Horsfall-Turner will take over the role of managing director from July 1 with a handover period in which Mr Hart will continue to advise, and support, the board and executive team until his official retirement on September 30.
In a further structural change, Matt Hunt, current group operations manager is promoted to operations director and will join the revised executive team with immediate effect.