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P&O Ferries chief executive Janette Bell steps down after spearheading Brexit and Covid strategies


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The P&O Ferries chief brought in to spearhead the Brexit process has stepped down.

Janette Bell, the Dover based chief executive who has just overseen a 1,100 redundancy scheme, is handing the reigns over to short routes managing director David Stretch who will become acting CEO.

P&O chief executive Janette Bell looking over the Port of Dover from headquarters Channel House
P&O chief executive Janette Bell looking over the Port of Dover from headquarters Channel House

Looking back over her three years in charge Ms bell told staff via email.

She said: “It has been a privilege and a great challenge to lead this remarkable company for three years and I feel that now is the right time to hand over the reins to a new chief executive who can work with you to write the next chapter in our story.”

Having led P&O through the Brexit process to date and the Covid-19 pandemic, she has overseen significant transformational change.

The staff communication said this has put the company "in a strong position to thrive again going forward."

Mr Stretch will be at the helm until further notice.

P&O Ferries will now be led by acting chief executive David Stretch, the company's former managing director
P&O Ferries will now be led by acting chief executive David Stretch, the company's former managing director

The statement says he has "significant expertise in the industry, and his knowledge, combined with his leadership credentials, make him the ideal candidate to lead the company onto the next chapter."

Like the rest of the travel industry, P&O Ferries was hit by lockdown and the non-essential travel ban.

The Dover-to Calais operation was reduced from six ships to three. I,400 staff were furloughed while it focussed on a freight only model.

Job losses were announced in June to shrink the company to the "right size" - 614 of them in Dover.

These were made up of voluntary and compulsory redundancies. Some still await the outcome.

P&O boss Janette Bell following the agreement with ship builders Guangzhou who will make the carbon neutral super ferries
P&O boss Janette Bell following the agreement with ship builders Guangzhou who will make the carbon neutral super ferries

Ms Bell also fronted a €260 million (£229m) contract with Chinese-based Guangzhou Shipyard International Ltd which will build two carbon neutral super ferries - the largest to sail between Dover and Calais.

Mike Bhaskaran, chief operating officer – logistics and technology at DP World, said: “I would like to thank Janette for her leadership during this challenging period and am looking forward to working with David to build on her legacy.

"The P&O business has an exciting future as a vital part of DP World, the leading provider of smart logistics solutions, enabling the flow of trade across the globe.”

P&O Ferries has declined to comment.

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