- Diageo CEO Ivan Menezes is retiring from both the company and its board as of June 30. Debra Crew, the current COO, will take the helm on July 1.
- Menezes has been with Diageo since 1997, when the company was created through the merger of Guinness and Grand Metropolitan. He has been CEO since July 2013.
- Crew is the first woman to helm the Britain-based alcoholic beverage giant. She joined Diageo’s board in 2019 and became president of North America in 2020. She has served as COO since last October.
In the recent past, Diageo’s sales growth and diversification have led the company to relative success, which makes for an easier time for Menezes to hand over the leadership reins.
With Crew, Diageo gets a CEO who knows both Diageo and the larger food and CPG business. She’s a former president and CEO of Reynolds American, and she has had several division president roles at PepsiCo. She has also worked with Kraft, Nestlé and Mars.
In a statement announcing the transition, Menezes said that he has been impressed with Crew’s passion for building high-performance teams, and he is “delighted” that she’s his successor.
Crew’s appointment as Diageo’s new CEO is not only a move to keep an experienced insider at the company. It also meets milestones in the company’s 10-year plan, which was unveiled in 2020. The plan highlighted health, sustainability and inclusion initiatives for the company, including a pledge to have women as 50% of its leaders by 2030.
Crew inherits a company with a strong balance sheet and several new avenues for growth. In its last half-year results, released in January, Diageo’s net sales were 9.4 billion pounds ($11.6 billion), an increase of 18.4%. The company’s share in top-shelf brands delivered the biggest sales boost, with premium-plus brands worth 57% of reported net sales, and driving 65% of organic net sales growth.
Some of that premium market share comes from recent acquisitions, while some comes from brand equity. Menezes announced in 2020 that the company would pursue a M&A strategy to prioritize premium brands. In the last six months, Diageo bought Australian premium coffee liqueur Mr Black for an undisclosed amount and Philippines-based super premium Don Papa Rum for a price of at least 260 million euros ($281.6 million), but potential performance based costs of 177.5 million euros ($192.2 million) more.
Recent movement in the U.S. market includes Diageo’s acquisition last year of fruit juice-infused tequila brand 21Seeds. The company recently partnered with Vita Coco to create canned cocktails with the coconut water and Captain Morgan rum, and purchased flavor-matching service Vivanda.
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