Wirral’s Park group unveils new CEO to take over from Chris Houghton

Employing 260 people in Birkenhead, Park Group provides gift vouchers, Christmas savings and corporate incentives and former MBNA boss Ian O’Doherty will take the helm next year. Tony McDonough reports

Ian O’Doherty to be the new chief executive of Park Group


Birkenhead-based gift vouchers, Christmas savings and corporate incentives business Park Group has recruited financial services heavyweight Ian O’Doherty to be its new chief executive.

Mr Sullivan will replace the current long-serving CEO Chris Houghton who said earlier this year he would be stepping down following the announcement of the company’s full year results in June 2018.

Mr Houghton has led the business, which employs around 260 people, has been with the business for 31 years and has been at the helm since 2004.

Park Group was traditionally a Christmas hampers and festive savings business and, under the leadership of Mr Houghton, has undergone a significant technological change. More than 90% of the firm’s orders now come online compared with just 10% in 2008.

The company was founded by former Everton FC and Tranmere Rovers owner Peter Johnson.

Mr O’Doherty has a strong background in financial services, specifically in banking, payments and card services, having worked at Chester-based MBNA for 26 years.

Most recently he served as chairman and chief executive of MBNA in the UK, a position he held from 2008 to 2017.

Chris Houghton, chief executive of Park Group is to step down next year


In this role, he was responsible for the re-engineering of MBNA’s digital capabilities and reorganised the business, leading it effectively through the 2008 financial crisis to its ultimate sale to Lloyds Banking Group for £1.9bn in June this year.

Mr O’Doherty said: “Thanks to the efforts of Park’s management team and all its dedicated staff, I am joining a company in excellent health, with a rich history and strong prospects for further growth and success.

“I look forward to working with the team to continue Park’s proud tradition in customer service and innovation.”

Laura Carstensen, chairman of Park, added: “We are extremely pleased to welcome someone of Ian’s experience and talent as CEO of Park and are excited to be working with him. There will be a comprehensive handover period which will ensure a smooth transition for the business.”

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