Richard Cousins, a former non-executive director of Tesco and boss of catering firm Compass, was killed in a seaplane crash on New Year’s Eve. 

Cousins was on holiday with his two sons, his fiancée and her 11-year-old daughter, whose lives were all tragically lost after the plane went down in a river north of Sydney.  

The 58-year-old Compass boss was widely regarded as one of the world’s best-performing chief executives, responsible for successfully reviving many struggling firms. 

Compass Group – the world’s largest catering company and a FTSE 100 company – was turned around under his leadership, as was Tesco when Cousins took over as an independent director during its 2014 accounting scandal.

Cousins quit his role on the grocer’s board last year because he disagreed with its proposed merger with wholesaler Booker. 

Compass chairman Paul Walsh said: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news. It has been a great privilege to know Richard personally and to work with him for the last few years.

“Richard was known and respected for his great humanity and a no-nonsense style that transformed Compass into one of Britain’s leading companies.”

Cousins started his career as a market researcher at Cadbury-Schweppes and later served as a non-executive director at firms including HBOS and P&O. He was due to retire from Compass in March. 

Police are investigating the cause of the crash amid efforts to recover the aircraft from the Hawkesbury river.

Cousins’ fiancée was 48-year-old journalist Emma Bowden. Pilot Gareth Morgan also died at the scene.