Uber has hired a headhunter to fill a new position of UK chairman as it battles to stay operational in London.
The ride-hailing app said the search began weeks before the shock decision by Transport for London (TfL) last week to deny Uber a new licence to operate in the capital, on the grounds that it was “not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence”.
The new non-executive chairman is likely to play a crucial role as Uber fights to renew its London licence and repair its reputation.
Uber’s existing licence expires on 30 September, but the company will be able to operate in the capital as long as the appeal process lasts, which could be up to a year.
TfL said the company had failed to meet the required standards in a number of areas, including its approach to reporting serious criminal offences and how medical certificates were obtained.
On Monday, Uber’s chief executive apologised for its mistakes in London and promised to change.
Dara Khosrowshahi, who succeeded the Uber founder, Travis Kalanick, as CEO a month ago, wrote in an open letter: “While Uber has revolutionised the way people move in cities around the world, it’s equally true that we’ve got things wrong along the way. On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologise for the mistakes we’ve made.
“We will appeal [against] the decision on behalf of millions of Londoners, but we do so with the knowledge that we must also change.”
The company is appearing at a UK employment appeal tribunal on Wednesday to argue that its workers are self-employed, and not entitled to a range of worker benefits.
It is seeking to overturn a landmark ruling last year, which found that its UK drivers should be treated as employed workers with rights to the minimum wage and sick pay.
An Uber spokesman said before the hearing: “Almost all taxi and private-hire drivers have been self-employed for decades before our app existed.
“Uber drivers have more control and are totally free to choose if, when and where they drive, with no shifts or minimum hours.”