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Keith Thomas

Chief Executive

An experienced Development and Operations Director with boardroom experience gained with Vardon Attractions (now Merlin Entertainment) and leisure consultancy, Grant Leisure Group before co-founding Petersham Group, Keith has a track record of managing profitable leisure projects, and delivering complex capital projects for clients around the world. A graduate of Royal Holloway College, University of London and subsequently a career professional in the leisure and tourism sector, Keith has been responsible over the course of over 30 years for the development and management of successful leisure businesses and visitor attractions in Europe, the Middle East, USA and Asia, both as a consultant to clients and in senior management roles with responsibilities including operations, general management, strategic planning and development.

Prior to moving into leisure consultancy Keith’s experience included twelve years managing and then developing visitor attractions at Vardon where his career developed as the company grew until assuming the position of Development Director, with responsibility for overseeing their expansion out of the UK and into continental Europe. In the process he gained a detailed understanding of the requirements of growing a major international leisure business.

Joining Grant Leisure Group in London as a Director in 1998, he worked in a consultancy role on leisure projects worldwide, including the planning, development and operation of Brand Lands, International Expos, Zoos and Aquariums. In 2003 Keith joined Jonathan Rounce at Petersham Group, where he is now Chief Executive. Principal areas of expertise include assessing the feasibility, planning and development of successful visitor attractions and mixed-used developments with particular emphasis on destination leisure attractions.

Amongst many projects undertaken for Petersham Group, recent highlights have included carrying out a feasibility and marketing study for a new International Museum currently being planned for a prime location in Dubai; delivering a Feasibility study for a ‘Madame Tussauds-style’ waxworks attraction for leading leisure and real estate developer/ operator, Vingroup in Phu Quoc, Vietnam; Master planning the leisure & entertainment components of Il Galala Sokhna, a new resort currently under construction on the Suez coast of Egypt; and an options appraisal and feasibility studies for the Uppåkra Archaeological Center in southern Sweden.

The first project he completed for Petersham Group, the Madeira Story Centre in Funchal, Madeira, where he project managed the development of the attraction, developed the operational strategy and oversaw the launch in 2005, recently passed its 11th anniversary since opening.

Keith has undertaken many projects in this way, from concept, through development, to launch and beyond, and is particularly experienced in the organisational and contractual structuring of development projects and with the associated procurement arrangements that need to be put in place. These are vital areas in the successful delivery of projects, both in terms of time and budget, and Keith’s experience in this area is therefore widely sought.

Keith is based near Tavistock, Devon in the South West of England where he lives with his family.


Keith is a seasoned professional, with a high sense of professionalism and attention to detail. As a consultant Keith has a very rare quality: he listens to clients and tells them what they have to hear rather than what they expect to hear. His knowledge of the attractions industry is outstanding and his project management skills are first class.
Main Board Director, Blandy Group, Portugal
Keith has an ability to very quickly understand both the client’s aspirations and the project’s requirements, even though at times they are potentially very different. Helping to formulate initial briefs with clients and then facilitating / mediating project briefings and presentations, allows Keith to create an initial momentum for projects that keeps them on schedule and ensures that all subsequent communications are understood, well informed and accurately recorded.
Partner, PKF (Madeira)
Keith’s inputs have enabled me to very quickly move through the interpretive design process, providing opportunities to create exciting and innovative design solutions on time and on budget. Perhaps just as important to all of this is the fact that it has been a pleasure to work with Keith over the past 6 years and I hope to continue to do so for as long as is possible.
Creative Director, Haley Sharpe Designs Ltd
Keith is the go to man for the leisure industry. I have been extremely impressed with his depth of knowledge in his chosen field whether that be operational support, concept development of funding. He is very personable and I have enjoyed partnering with him and the Petersham Group on various projects.
Director, The Cutting Edge Ltd
Keith is professional trainer and client oriented consultant. Keith is also reliable partner in business. We enjoyed partnership with Petersham Group in training key personell of major tourism attractions in Estonia.
Partner/Senior consultant at BDA Consulting (Estonia)
Thank you Keith for your hard work as chairman, all the promotion you did and your inspiring presentation.

We really appreciated it that you came over again this year to help us make the Leisure Business Days program a success.

Senior consultant at KWAN Leisure (Netherlands)


Keith Thomas

BSc Honours (University of London) Biology


An experienced Development and Operations Director with boardroom experience with leading leisure companies who has gone on to work across the international leisure & hospitality industry at progressively senior levels embracing operations, general management, strategic planning, project development and management consultancy.
General management and board level roles in Operations and subsequently, Development with Sea Life Centres and Vardon Attractions (now Merlin Entertainment). Subsequently, leisure consultancy posts with Grant Leisure Group Ltd before joining Petersham Group and becoming Chief Executive.
Peter Tavy
PL19 9NP
T. +44 (0)1822 810460
M. +44 (0)7739 386397
S. keiththomaspetersham


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