Saga chief Lance Batchelor to step down months after profit warning

Saga has announced that its chief executive, Lance Batchelor, is set to leave the firm, months after it posted a troubling profit warning.

In April, the over-50s travel and insurance company warned over profits for the coming year amid an overhaul to return to growth, sending shares down by more than a third.

Saga confirmed that Mr Batchelor will retire from his role as group chief executive officer at the end of the current financial year, after six years with the business.

The 55-year-old, who previously worked at Domino’s Pizza and Tesco Mobile, led Saga through its float on the London Stock Exchange in 2014.

The company said a process has now started to recruit a successor, with Mr Batchelor set to leave his post in January 2020.

In April, Saga said it was launching a “fundamental” strategy rethink of tactics in the insurance business to address “increasing challenges” in its markets.

The firm blamed the challenges for a knock on profit margins, which it said, together with changes to premium renewal prices and investment in new products, will see underlying pre-tax profits slump up to 42% in 2019-20.

Chairman Patrick O’Sullivan said: “Lance has led Saga with a resolute focus on reinvestment and rebuilding a truly customer-centric organisation.

“On behalf of the board, we are grateful for his contribution and wish him every success for the future.”

Mr Batchelor said: “It has been a huge privilege to lead Saga. I am very proud of the journey we have taken to modernise the business and refocus it on customers.

“We now have enhanced products and the infrastructure needed for a sustainable and healthy future.

“Over the coming months, I look forward to continuing to execute the new strategy in our insurance business and seeing the launch of spirit of discovery in a few weeks.”

On Tuesday, Saga announced plans to team up with Goldman Sachs’ UK consumer bank to launch new savings products and services.

The move will see Saga work as a new “long-term savings partner” with Marcus, Goldman’s savings arm, which accepted its first UK savers in August last year.