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Compass chairman 'deeply shocked' by CEO's death in seaplane tragedy

Compass chairman Paul Walsh expressed his sympathies yesterday after CEO Richard Cousins died in a seaplane crash

Pictured: Richard Cousins, CEO of catering company Compass, who died with his family on New Year's Eve.

The chairman of catering company Compass said he is "deeply shocked and saddened" by the death of CEO Richard Cousins in a seaplane crash in Australia on New Year's Eve.

Cousins, 58, died alongside his fiancee Emma Bowden, 48, his two sons William, 25, and Edward, 23, and her daughter Heather, 11, while on holiday in Australia. Their flight crashed near Sydney Harbour, in what Australian police described as a tragic accident.

The plane came down off Jerusalem Bay near Cowan, 25 miles north of Sydney, at about 3.10pm local time on Sunday. A sixth person, Australian pilot Gareth Morgan, also died in the crash. An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

Compass chairman Peter Walsh said: "It is with deep sadness that we can confirm that our Group Chief Executive, Richard Cousins and four members of his close family have died in a plane accident in Australia on 31 December 2017. 

"We are deeply shocked and saddened by this terrible news. The thoughts of everyone at Compass are with Richard's family and friends, and we extend our deepest sympathies to them.

"It has been a great privilege to know Richard personally and to work with him for the last few years. Richard was known and respected for his great humanity and a no-nonsense style that transformed Compass into one of Britain's leading companies."

Cousins, who became CEO of Compass in 2006, helped turn around the fortunes of the then-struggling business. The Harvard Business Review recently named him as one of the world's best-performing CEOs. He was due to stand down as chief executive in March.

Compass confirmed in a separate statement yesterday that Dominic Blakemore, who was due to take over from Cousins in March, will take over immediately.

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