SHARES in Hostmore, the hospitality company that owns the Fridays cocktail bar chain, have plunged by 20 per cent this morning following the abrupt departure of its chief executive.

Robert Cook, a former boss of One Devonshire Gardens in Glasgow, has stepped down from his role with immediate effect, the company announced this morning.

It came as Hostmore, which runs outlets trading under the Fridays and 63rd + 1st brands in Scotland, reported that revenue for the 26 weeks ended January 1, 2023, was 14% below the comparative period for 2019.

READ MORE: Retailers warn Scottish firms will pay £60m a year more in rates

Julie McEwan, currently chief operating officer of Fridays, has been appointed interim chief executive.

Hostmore said the board has begun a search process, covering internal and external candidates, to find a long-term replacement for Mr Cook.

Mr Cook said: “I wish to extend my sincere gratitude and thanks to the board and the executive team for their support in my three years at the helm, and, most importantly, to thank all the team in the restaurants who pull on the red and white stripes every day and do such a sterling job for the brand.”

Gavin Manson, chairman of Hostmore, said: "On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Robert for his efforts as CEO over the past three years, particularly in steering the business through the Covid pandemic and in rebuilding the executive team, and we wish him well for the future.

"We are pleased that Julie has accepted the role of interim CEO, given her strong sector experience and operational strengths. Together, we look forward to focusing on the Group's priorities and building on its strengths in the weeks and months ahead.”