Gebhard Rainer appointed as CEO of HX

Hurtigruten Group/HX CEO Daniel Skjeldam to transition to board member

Gebhard Rainer, incoming CEO, HX (Hurtigruten Expeditions)

Expedition cruise company HX (Hurtigruten Expeditions) has named Gebhard Rainer as its new Chief Executive Officer. Rainer is the former CEO of Sandals Resorts International, where he successfully navigated the complexities of the luxury hospitality industry while driving significant business growth.

Current Group CEO and CEO for HX, Daniel Skjeldam, will transition to a role as a board member in Hurtigruten Group next month.

Hurtigruten Group said Rainer’s extensive experience and strategic vision will drive HX into its next phase of growth and development. Initiating a new strategic plan in 2021, Hurtigruten Group has been advancing through a significant reorganisation to bring Hurtigruten and HX – now with two autonomous management teams in place – to its full potential by carving out HX as a separate company with full focus on the global expedition cruise market.

MS Roald Amundsen, Antarctica | Credit: Dan Avila

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Rainer’s appointment represents a clear focus and investment on delivering HX’s strategy and financial plan and represents HX advancing towards full autonomy with its own Executive Leadership Team and board.

Daniel Skjeldam has been serving as both Group CEO and HX CEO during the initial stages of the transformation process of HX. He emphasised the opportune timing for appointing a CEO solely dedicated to HX.

“We have now set the right direction for HX, both when it comes to introducing a new brand and establishing and executing the first parts of the new long-term strategy,” Skjeldam said.

“With the split between Hurtigruten and HX in its final phase, I believe the timing is ideal to bring in a dedicated CEO for HX to develop the company to its full potential.”

Skjeldam highlighted Rainer’s appointment as integral to HX’s future success and expansion. He underlined: “The appointment of Rainer is a key component of our strategic plan for the future of HX. With his proven leadership and strategic acumen, knowledge of the US market and successfully running a company with strong ties to the travel trade, Rainer is ideally positioned for this key role in HX’s forward journey”.

Daniel Skjeldam, Hurtigruten Group CEO

Rainer expressed his enthusiasm for joining the HX team and his confidence in the brand’s potential for success.

“I’m thrilled to embark on this journey with HX and to contribute to our shared vision for expedition travel that is mindful, responsibly low-impact, and considerate of our surroundings,” he said. “The opportunities ahead are truly exciting, and I look forward to leveraging HX’s strengths to drive innovation, growth, and positive impact in the expedition travel industry.”

Gebhard Rainer brings with him a wealth of experience garnered from his notable career spanning various leadership roles. At Sandals Resorts International he successfully navigated the complexities of the luxury hospitality industry while driving significant business growth. His tenure at Coach as President & Chief Operating Officer further solidified his reputation as a transformative leader capable of optimising operations and enhancing consumer experiences.

Recognising the essential nature of Rainer’s appointment to fulfil HX’s strategic vision, building on the solid foundation that has been created, the newly appointed Chairperson of the HX Board, Alex Dichter, underscored the fundamental role Rainer will play in steering the company towards its ambitious objectives.

“His appointment reflects our commitment to ensuring the success and sustainability of HX, as well as our broader organisational objectives,” said Dichter.

Gebhard F. Rainer
MS Roald Amundsen, Orne Harbour, Antarctica | credit: Andrea Klaussner/Hurtigruten

“Rainer brings expertise, experience, and strategic vision to our team. With his leadership, we are poised to navigate new horizons and further solidify our position as a leader in global adventure travel. His expertise will not only drive the growth of HX but also contribute significantly to achieving our overarching goals as an organisation.”

Rainer will assume the role of CEO of HX from 15 July 2024 onwards.

Skjeldam will remain CEO of both Hurtigruten Group and HX until 15 July.

He underlined: “With HX and Hurtigruten at the appropriate stage of the transformation process to become fully independent companies, I am absolutely confident that both companies now have a great leadership to take them forward on executing their strategy. In my new role as a board member, I see great potential for both HX and Hurtigruten, and I eagerly anticipate supporting their further development.”

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