Simon Smith, the managing director of WHSmith’s travel division, has been appointed chief executive of SSP UK & Ireland, joining his former boss Kate Swann who left the retailer last year to head up the travel retail franchisee.

Smith, who has spent 20 years working in retail, will join SSP in June. He replaces Mark Angela, who has been appointed to the new role of chief commercial officer for the group.

Smith joined the travel division of WHSmith in 2004 as trading director before being promoted to chief operating officer and then managing director. His retail background also includes stints at Fenwicks, Allders and Safeway, where he worked in both commercial and marketing roles.

Swann said: “Simon has an excellent track record in travel retail. At WHSmith he was instrumental in driving growth and the expansion of the business internationally. His proactive leadership style will undoubtedly contribute much to the continuing success of our UK and Ireland business, and I’m delighted to welcome him to the team.”

A WHSmith spokesperson said: “The company today announces that Simon Smith, Managing Director of the Travel Retail business, will be leaving the business this summer after 10 years of service to the group.  We are grateful for his contribution to the company and he leaves with our best wishes for the future.”

It is understood a search for Smith’s replacement is underway.