Shakeup at Tsogo Sun as two of the top four clear their desks and leave tomorrow

Lots of really intriguing stuff happening in the hotels sector right now. As CNBC’s Samantha Loring writes  below, two of Tsogo Sun’s top four will be leaving the R30bn group tomorrow. Since aggressive young CEO Marcel Von Aulock (38) was promoted from financial director into the hot seat in September 2011, both Tsogo’s head of marketing Rob Collins and MD of its hotel operations Graham Wood have been unsettled. Their seniority is reflected in last year’s earnings of R4.6m and R2.4m respectively. Samantha broke the story before Tsogo had told its 12 000 staff of the departures – so Von Aulock was not prepared to come over to chat about it on the 7pm market wrap-up programme Business Tonight, which I’ll be hosting this evening.  Which is all rather strange considering there’s only a day left to make the official statement. By late this afternoon, Tsogo had still not informed shareholders through the Stock Exchange News Service (SENS). My information is that Wood has been looking around for a while and is likely to move outside of the hospitality industry. Insiders say Collins would have fancied is chances of  getting the top job ahead of Von Aulock. Both he and Wood, however, were effectively demoted in October 2011 (eight months after Von Aulock was appointed CEO) when they were taken off the Tsogo main board. The group is controlled in a partnership between Johnny Copelyn and Marcel Golding’s HCI (41.3%) and SABMiller (39.7%).  It owns 14 casinos and 94 hotels, but is heavily weighted towards the Montecasino (Joburg North), Suncoast (KZN) and Gold Reef City (Joburg South) casinos which generate half the group’s income. The two Johannesburg casinos are under threat from a proposed relocation by competitor Sun International’s Morula operation to Menlyn in Tshwane. That move, which would require a capital investment of over R3bn, would eat significantly into the target market currently served by the Tsogo casinos. Pretoria and Centurion residents account for over a fifth of the current punting clients of Montecasino. – AH    

By Samantha Loring of CNBC Africa. 

Five head office jobs are being cut as part of a management shake-up at Tsogo Sun Holdings.

Marcel Von Aulock, Tsogo CEO, confirmed to CNBC Africa today that the move “ is part of a head office restructure which has led to a

Samantha Loring: Her story was published before Tsogo had time to tell its 12 000 staff of the departures
Samantha Loring: Her story came too soon for Tsogo Sun’s young CEO – didn’t have time to inform his 12 000 staff

flattening of reporting lines in order to remain operationally efficient. The five executive positions will not be replaced and their responsibilities will be reallocated to other positions in the group”.

Two of the affected executives are Graham Wood, MD of Southern Sun Hotels and Rob Collins, Tsogo Sun’s chief marketing officer – both are preparing for their last day at Tsogo tomorrow. “The other three affected head office positions have yet to announced internally,” says Von Aulock.

Durban-born Wood was appointed managing director of Southern Sun Hotels in September 2008. Before joining Tsogo, Wood spent 12 years at competitor- Sun International. His first job, was as a project accountant at Sun City Resorts.

Just before jumping ship to join the competitor in 2008, Wood worked his way up the Sun International ladder to become divisional director of Resorts in 2007, with responsibilities for the African hotels including sales and marketing.

While at Tsogo – Wood worked under two bosses: Jabu Mabuza, Tsogo’s chairman since 2011 and current CEO Marcel von Aulock. It took Von Aulock eleven years to become CEO of Tsogo. His first position was as group financial manager in 1999.

Over the past two years, Von Aulock has been making his mark – implementing a new vision for Tsogo. In part, this has involved cutting costs, improving efficiencies leading to the headcount reduction. The new Tsogo vision has also been exemplified by the rebranding of the group’s various operating divisions under one name and one brand identity ‘Tsogo Sun Holdings’ which housed household brands such as Montecasino, Suncoast, Gold Reef City, Silverstar Casino and Southern Sun.

The man responsible for the 2012 rebranding exercise is CMO, Rob Collins who leaves alongside Wood tomorrow.

Von Aulock thanked both Wood and Collins for their significant contribution to the company and their commitment to supporting this process and the smooth handover.

The name Tsogo refers to the daily rising of the sun and in Setswana it stands for resurrection or new life. Today, Von Aulock will be looking towards the dawn of a new era with a leaner management team while Collins and Wood both reflect, rather on the sun-setting on their careers at South Africa’s largest listed hotel and Tourism Company.

Tsogo reported annual results on May 23rd. Full year adjusted headline earnings per share was up 24 per cent to 150.3 cents with a final dividend per share 51.0 cents, up 28 per cent.

* This story first appeared on and is republished with permission.


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