British low-cost airline easyJet has appointed John Barton as its non-executive chairman with effect from 1 May, replacing Sir Mike Rake who will step down from the company's board on the same date.
Barton has been the chairman of fashion retailer Next and Lloyd's insurer Caitlin. He has also served as the chairman of Cable and Wireless Worldwide, WH Smith and Brit Insurance Holdings.
He was the chief executive of insurance broker JIB Group from 1984 to 1997. After JIB's merger with Lloyd Thomson in 1997, he became chairman of the combined group, named Jardine Lloyd Thompson Group.
"John brings a wealth of plc board experience and valuable commercial expertise to easyJet. He has chaired major quoted companies for over 16 years, has sound financial expertise and great understanding of high profile, competitive consumer markets from his time at Next," nomination committee chairman David Bennett said in a statement.
"EasyJet has clearly established itself as one of Europe's leading airlines and one of Britain's most successful and dynamic companies. My aim will be to ensure that the management team of easyJet can continue to deliver profitable growth and market leading returns," Barton said.
On 28 January, Sir Mike announced that he wishes to stand down from the easyJet board. The company noted that he has "steered the company through three years of success and profitable growth".
The budget airline became a constituent of the FTSE 100 on 18 March, and Sir Mike's resignation was to avoid a potential corporate governance row after the carrier's inclusion into the index.
The airline's founder and largest shareholder, Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, has tried to oust him as chairman on several occasions. Stelios, whose family controls 37 percent of easyJet shares, exited the company's board in 2010 after a dispute over strategy.
Barton's appointment will be on the same terms as Sir Mike Rake, easyJet said.
Earlier this month, easyJet said it expected to have halved its losses to between £60m (€70m, $92m) and £65m for the half-year to 31 March. Despite a quiet season for airlines, easyJet benefited from a late rush of bookings due to the extremely cold weather in the UK and northern Europe.