Thomas Cook's chief executive resigned on Wednesday following a disastrous year for Europe's second largest travel firm, the company announced in a statement. Manny Fontenla-Novoa, who took over four years ago, has presided over three profit warnings in the last year linked to unrest in key holiday destinations Egypt and Tunisia and a poor performance in Thomas Cook's British division. It is believed Fontenla-Novoa agreed to stand down after accepting responsibility for the poor performance in Britain. Deputy chief executive Sam Weihagen will run the business until a new chief executive is found. Fontenla-Novoa joined the group in 1996 after it acquired SunWorld, a business he founded. Confirming his resignation, he said: "Thomas Cook and its people have a sound heritage and I have been proud to have been part of the company." Thomas Cook's latest profit warnings last month showed it expected full-year 2011 operating profits of £320 million (363 million euros, $506 million), compared with 2010's £362.2 million. On Wednesday, Thomas Cook said it remained on track to meet its profit target. Shares in the company, which have lost two-thirds of their value this year, were up more than five percent to 63.90 pence following the announcement of Fontenla-Novoa's departure.