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Robert Cook

Chief Executive Officer

Fridays

London, UK

Robert B. Cook
Jeremy Coller
Coller Capital
Mark Corbidge
Sun European Partners, LLP

Biography

Robert B. Cook is a successful hotelier, respected businessman and CEO of the popular restaurant chain, Fridays.

Hotels are in Robert’s DNA, and after completing a graduate trainee programme with Bass he joined The Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh. He went on to work with legendary hotelier Ken McCulloch at the Malmaison group, first as General Manager of Malmaison in Newcastle, then as Operations Director for the Group.

Working once again with McCulloch, Robert moved to Monte Carlo to work on the Columbus Hotel, in collaboration with F1 racing driver David Coulthard. He went on to become managing director of the Columbus and Dakota hotel group.

In 2004 Cook returned to Malmaison as CEO. The hotel group’s owners, Marylebone Warwick Balfour, then bought the Hotel du Vin chain and Robert is credited with the growth and expansion of both groups, and with creating two unique and recognisable brands.

As CEO of De Vere Hotels Robert was tasked with breathing new life into the brand and reinventing its image across all estates. The company underwent a major re-branding and was renamed De Vere Village Urban Resorts.

After his successful tenure at the helm of De Vere, Robert served as Chief Operating Officer of Macdonald Hotels & Resorts before moving away from hotels and becoming CEO of Virgin Active UK in 2016. Incorporating fresh ideas from the hotel industry he steered the brand into the future.

Run by his wife Debbie, Robert is the owner of The Cookie Jar, an 11 bedroom boutique hotel overlooking Alnwick Castle in Northumberland. He is also a Board Advisor to Valley Ridge Resort Development in Suffolk.

Robert was awarded the Freedom of the City of London and is a Master Innholder of the hotel industry. He was recognised as Manager of the Year by The Cateys Awards in 2006 and holds an Honorary Doctorate for his contribution to the hotel industry from his alma mater, Robert Gordon University.

Robert’s Newsfeed

Lincolnshire Live
Fridays delays opening new restaurant

Chief executive Robert Cook told us at the time: "We've taken the opportunity to take on two new restaurants through the ugly world of administration and we're really excited to bring Lincoln and Cobham (in Surrey) into the stable and make them great Fridays restaurants."

The Caterer
£500m Suffolk staycation resort brings David Church and Robert Cook on board as advisors

Industry veterans David Church and Robert Cook have joined the project as board advisors to the developer Valley Ridge Holdings, which has acquired a 284-acre site in the county.

Robert’s Background

Fridays
Chief Executive Officer
Dec 2019 - Present
London, UK
The UK franchise of a leading restaurant chain offering American food and beverages with an atmosphere that captures the spirit of Fridays.
Virgin Active
Chief Executive Officer
May 2016 - Nov 2019
London, UK
Virgin Active is a leading global health, wellness & fitness brand with over 230 clubs across the world and over one million members globally. The brand falls under the Virgin Group, a multinational conglomerate founded by Sir Richard Branson.
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Other Business Interests

The Cookie Jar
Owner
2017 - Present
Alnwick, UK
The Cookie Jar is a boutique hotel in Alnwick, Northumberland. The hotel’s historic building was previously the Convent of Mercy and has been tastefully converted into 11 luxurious rooms and suites. Run by Robert’s wife Debbie, there are plans to move the hotel to a larger 40 bedroom site in Alnwick, opening in 2023.

Current Advisory Roles

Valley Ridge Resort
Advisor
Nov 2020 - Present
Valley Ridge Resort in Suffolk (formerly known as ‘SnOasis’) is set to become the UK’s leading ‘staycation’ destination, with year round winter and water sports and state of the art leisure and hotel facilities. Valley Ridge is due to open in 2023/4.

Memberships

The Master Innholders
Master Innholder
The Master Innholders is a standard-bearer for the hospitality industry and is supported by the Worshipful Company of Innholders and the Institute of Hospitality.

Awards & Endorsements

Freedom of the City of London
Freemen of the City of London
London, UK
The Freedom of the City of London is an award that recognises successful individuals in their field. The Freemen are presented with a certificate by the Clerk to the Chamberlain during a ceremony held at the Guildhall.
The Cateys
Manager of the Year 2006
The Cateys is a prestigious award ceremony for the hotel industry. Awardees are selected by the industry through The Caterer magazine.

Robert’s Education

Robert Gordon University
Honorary Doctorate in Business
2007 - 2007
Robert Gordon University
Hotel, Catering & Institutional Administration
1983 - 1986

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