Shares in the leisure company that owns Dreamworld are getting killed after a media exec was appointed CEO

Deborah Thomas at the YMCA Mother of All Balls in Sydney. Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images

Shares in Ardent Leisure were hammered today after the theme park and leisure industry group announced the appointment of former magazine editor Deborah Thomas as CEO.

Thomas, who starts next month, replaces Greg Shaw who is leaving after almost 13 years as chief executive. She is currently editorial and media director, women’s magazines and custom publishing at Bauer Media, as well as a local government councillor in Woollahra. She appeared on the reality TV show Celebrity Apprentice as an adviser to Mark Bouris.

Ardent reported a 14.1% increase in revenue to $285.9 million for the six months to December. Statutory profit was $18.8 million, down from $22.5 million.

Chairman Neil Balnaves says the company — which runs Dreamworld, WhiteWater World and SkyPoint theme parks, and AMF and Kingpin Bowling — is fortunate to have an executive of Deborah’s calibre.

Thomas has been a non-executive director of the group since December 2013.

Balnaves says: “Thomas brings to the CEO role extensive experience in all aspects of the media and the critical areas of advertising and brand development, digital marketing, mass market consumer behaviour, events management, public relations and communications.”

Thomas was in charge of The Australian Women’s Weekly for almost a decade.

Thomas said: “It is a great privilege to follow in Greg’s footsteps and be given stewardship of such an exciting group of businesses. Greg has built a great platform of assets and management team on which I will build, with a strong focus on marketing, customer service and product innovation across all of our facilities.”

The company’s shares fell about 28% before recovering. Ardent is currently trading about 19% down at $1.98.

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