Hilton Group, the hotel and betting shop operator, will reveal this week that it has appointed headhunters to find a new chief for Hilton International, its hotel division.
The post has lain vacant for the past 18 months after the untimely death of Anthony Harris, the previous incumbent. Since then David Michels, the group chief executive, has additionally run the hotel division on a temporary basis.
The news is fresh evidence of the continuing recovery in hotel profits following three dismal years on the back of the September 11 attacks, the Sars virus, the war in Iraq and the global economic downturn. Mr Michels had previously indicated he would appoint a new hotel boss only once trading improved.
The announcement will accompany Thursday's half-year results, when Hilton is expected to report interim pre-tax profits of about £172 million, up from £110.5 million a year ago, thanks to strong performances from both parts of the company. The dividend will also be raised.
Ladbrokes, its gambling arm, is expected to deliver a record result, helped by the continuing popularity of fixed-odds betting terminals. It now has three such terminals and one traditional fruit machine in each of its 1,870 betting shops, the maximum allowed under guidelines agreed with the Government.
The company will also focus on the strong growth in internet gambling. Julian Easthope, leisure analyst at UBS, reckons e-gaming will report earnings before interest and tax of £15.2 million, up from £6.2 million last year. The telephone betting arm is said to have reversed its market share decline of the past two years.
Although the hotel business has also improved, the picture is more mixed, with healthy growth in the UK and the Middle East but tough trading in the rest of Europe, in particular France and Sweden.
Hilton declined to comment ahead of Thursday's results.