Alexander out at Everything Everywhere - but Hornby back in at Coral

As one CEO gets off the corporate treadmill, another who'd previously taken a similar decision opts to get back on it.

by James Taylor
Last Updated: 19 Nov 2015
Yesterday Tom Alexander surprised the City by quitting as CEO of Orange/ T-Mobile combo Everything Everywhere, citing personal reasons - presumably with the intention of spending less time working and more time at home. (Hasn't he heard of flexible working? Apparently it's a lot easier with smartphones.) But judging by the example of Andy Hornby - who quit the top job at Alliance Boots four months ago amid suggestions of stress, only to reappear this week as boss of bookmaker Coral - the excitement of corporate life is not easy for these people to live without...

When Hornby quit as chief exec of Alliance Boots earlier this year, the suggestion was that he was finding the daily grind a bit much; he talked about the 'intense last five years' he'd spent as CEO of two major companies'. Later, his boss Stefano Pessina said that stress was a factor in his decision; that he'd come back too early and found the workload too much. But it clearly wasn't enough to put him off corporate life altogether, because after a few months out, he's decided to take another CEO job, this time at Coral. We guess those mortgages/ school fees/ skiing holidays won't pay for themselves...

This has to count - somewhat fittingly - as a bit of a gamble for Coral. Hornby made a stellar name for himself during his time at Asda, and is by all accounts a very likeable individual. But his last two jobs have involved presiding over the collapse of HBOS and that spell at Boots, where he lasted less than two years. (There's been some speculation that Coral want him to use the experience he had of working under private equity owners at Boots to lead a buyout from its parent Gala Coral, although the company itself has been trying to play this down today.)

Like Hornby's exit from Boots, Alexander's departure from the stupidly-named Everything Everywhere came as a bit of surprise. It is, after all, only a year since Orange and T-Mobile merged - and judging by the large fall in new customers in the first quarter of this year, there's still plenty of work to do. But perhaps he feels that having got through the first year, it's time to hand over the reins to someone else for the next stage of the integration process. (And it'll be interesting to see which side the new boss comes from...)

The question is: how long will Alexander stay out of the game? He apparently spends his free time racing sports cars, so perhaps that will be sufficiently replace the adrenalin buzz he presumably got from working in such a high-pressure job. Or perhaps, like Hornby, he'll find that after a few months in his garden (/in the local bookies), he's champing at the bit to start telling people what to do again.

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