Former Starbucks president to head Blue World Voyages as CEO
August 31st 2017
By Anne Kalosh
John B. Richards, former president of Starbucks, N.A. and other iconic companies, has taken the helm of Blue World Voyages as chief executive officer.
Gene Meehan, chairman and founder of Blue World Voyages, said Richards will work closely with him and the development team to introduce this new cruise brand fully dedicated to sports, wellness and active lifestyle consumers.
Richards is an accomplished senior executive with experience building high-end consumer brands, including hospitality, travel, cruise and fitness. As chief marketing officer for Royal Viking Line in the early years of luxury cruising, he helped engage a younger audience and executed a pioneering loyalty program to drive sales, pacesetting strategies at the time.
'We are intentionally trying to break some of the rules of traditional cruising, and for that reason, we have been looking for a CEO who will help us see and implement things differently. John’s track record for growing companies into category leaders makes him the ideal person to lead Blue World Voyages as we enter the global marketplace,' Meehan said.
He expressed the confidence that with Richards on board, the company will achieve its goal of expanding to a three-ship operation within five years and create a new specialty market for active lifestyle cruising.
With the first 350-passenger, five-star ship planned to launch in 2018, Blue World Voyages aims to have a second and third ship in the water by 2022. The fleet will roam the world, with the company evaluating destinations based on the availability of outdoor activities such as cycling, hiking, golf and watersports, access to areas conducive to yoga and meditation, and cultural and learning opportunities.
'By embedding the concept of wellness into every aspect of the cruise experience, including the itineraries, Blue World Voyages brings something authentically different to cruise travel consumers,' Richards said. 'I am in sync with Gene’s distinctive point of view about what he wants to accomplish, and about who he wants to accomplish it for.'
Richards sees Blue World Voyages as an 'exciting opportunity to create a product that not only supports and contributes to healthful living, but that will excel in integrating its offerings to the rapidly expanding marketplace of consumers who are committed to fitness and wellness.'
Best known for orchestrating the meteoric retail growth of Starbucks—taking that emerging start-up from 500 outlets to a national chain of 3,000 stores and growing revenues from $400m to $2.5bn in three years—Richards also achieved luxury brand leadership for Four Seasons Hotels. During his 10-year tenure, he helped expand the company from eight hotels in three countries to 42 hotels in 22 countries.
Richards accomplished similar results in the rejuvenation of the Elizabeth Arden spa and salon business. As CEO, president and board member for Elizabeth Arden Red Door, he helped restructure this multimillion-dollar entity, the largest luxury spa provider in North America.
Just prior to joining Blue World Voyages, Richards was CEO and director for The Joint Chiropractic, an operator and franchisor with more than 325 clinics in 30 states. He refocused that company’s overall strategy and led a successful IPO. Before that, he was a board member for Life Time, The Healthy Way of Life Co., a high growth company focused on fitness and the concept of healthy living.
Richards also held positions with McKinsey and Co. and the New England Consulting Group.
Excerpt from Seatrade Cruise Review