Dillip Rajakarier at the start of the new year will replace Bill Heinecke as group chief executive officer of Minor International while maintaining his role as CEO of Minor Hotels.

Heinecke, founder of the publicly listed hospitality, restaurants, and lifestyle company in Thailand, will assume a new position as chairman of the executive management committee while retaining his position as chairman of the board.

The American entrepreneur, 70, also retains his indefatigable energy and passion, telling Skift he is stepping up, not down, when asked about the Rajakarier’s promotion.

“Not stepping down but stepping up and focusing more on our strategy,” Heinecke said.

“Dillip has worked with me for 12 years, and he is fully capable of running the day-to-day operation of Minor international. As chairman of the executive committee, I will still work daily on ensuring Minor’s continued success. I believe succession planning and ensuring a smooth transition is one of the most important roles a founder can play. As the largest shareholder in Minor International, I take my continued role very seriously.”

Rajakarier, who joined Minor in March 2007 as vice president, finance, for the hotel group, is an astute finance and investment leader, instrumental in helping Heinecke turn Minor Hotels into anything but minor. His most notable achievement included last year’s acquisition of NH Hotel Group, the largest deal to date for Minor Hotels and a strategic transaction. NH’s profit was around $286 million (260 million euros) last year, it was revealed during Minor International’s third-quarter earnings. The chain is looking at a profit exceeding $314 million (285 million euros) this year.

Add to that other acquisitions that included Tivoli in Europe and Latin America; Elewana in Africa, and Oaks in Australia, all of which grew Minor into a global hotel chain.

As well, under his leadership, Heinecke’s homegrown hotel brand, Anantara, went beyond Thailand to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. A sister brand, Avani, too, was created and has expanded. Minor Hotels today boasts a portfolio of more than 520 hotels.

“It is a huge privilege to be given the opportunity to lead Minor International,” said Rajakarier. “I am tremendously optimistic about the future of our company. Indeed, we are moving swiftly to structure the organization for even faster growth to ensure we can respond to the fast-changing needs of customers around the world in each of our business avenues.”

Paying tribute to Heinecke, he said, “William Heinecke’s industry and leadership achievements are recognized globally, and the outstanding success of the company speaks for itself. Mr. Heinecke’s industry insight and personal dedication have fostered global success from the ground up, and I fully intend to build upon the values and assets of his incredible accomplishments.”

Rajakarier will be responsible for Minor International’s overarching strategy across all business units, including the corporate shared services of legal, IT, and finance, as well as talent development and business culture. With a strong focus on driving expansion, sales, and profitability worldwide, he will work closely with the board of directors to achieve the long-term objective of becoming a globally recognized leader in all three of the core businesses: hospitality, restaurants, and lifestyle.

Apart from hotels, Heinecke brought pizzas, ice cream, and burgers to Thailand and the region in the early days of the company. Minor International is now one of Asia’s largest restaurant companies with over 2,200 outlets systemwide in 26 countries under The Pizza Company, The Coffee Club, Riverside, Benihana, Thai Express, Bonchon, Swensen’s, Sizzler, Dairy Queen, and Burger King brands.

It’s also one of Thailand’s largest distributors of lifestyle brands and contract manufacturers with brands including Anello, Bodum, Bossini, Brooks Brothers, Charles & Keith, Esprit, Etam, Joseph Joseph, OVS, Radley, Scomadi, Zwilling J.A. Henckels, and Minor Smart Kids.

Photo Credit: Dillip Rajakarier, soon-to-be group CEO of Minor International, while retaining his role as CEO of Minor Hotels. Minor Hotels