Deborah Thomas is leaving Ardent with a $731,000 payout

Deborah Thomas at a private memorial at Dreamworld. Tertius Pickard/Getty Images

Deborah Thomas, who was CEO of Ardent Leisure during the Dreamworld theme park fatal accident last year, is leaving the company.

She goes after two years in the role with a $731,291 payout, about the same as her 12 month average base pay.

Thomas had previously stepped down as CEO and managing director to take an operational role as chief customer officer and chief operating officer.

However, now she will depart on July 1, to be replaced by Simon Kelly, a former Nine network senior executive.

Thomas, a former editor of Cleo and editor in chief at Australian Women’s Weekly, will retain the right to unvested entitlements under a long term incentive plan.

According to the 2016 annual report, Thomas has long term performance rights valued at $336,000.

She will also be paid a consultancy fee of $3,000 a day to provide ongoing support to the CEO, senior management and board of Ardent during the pending Coronial Inquiry into the Dreamworld tragedy.

Four people died in October last year on the Thunder River rapids ride at Dreamworld on the Gold Coast when two rafts collided. The theme park reopened on December 10.

Chairman George Venardos says it is a testament to Thomas’s professionalism and character that she has agreed to provide support to Ardent and the various official bodies preparing for the Coronial Inquiry.

“The Coronial Inquiry is of great importance and priority to Ardent and all of the families, staff, and members of the community impacted by that tragedy, and Deborah will help ensure Ardent gives that process the full attention, focus and resources it rightly deserves,” he says.

Ardent posted a first half loss of $49.4 million, after a $95.2 million write-down on property, plant and equipment, as well as goodwill and costs involving the Dreamworld incident.

Revenue and attendance at the company’s theme parks are gradually improving.

The latest monthly trading for May shows theme parks visitors down 35.8% and unaudited
revenues at $3.9 million, down 35.4%.

“This represents an improvement in both visitation and revenue compared to the Mar/Apr results reported in last month’s trading update,” says the company.

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