CANADA: Former InBev exec joins Cott as CEO
The Canadian soft drinks producer announced the appointment today (15 May), a week after Willis said he was to leave the Belgian brewing giant, where he headed its Asia-Pacific operations.
Willis, whose appointment becomes effective tomorrow, replaces John Sheppard, who leaves to "pursue new opportunities", Cott said.
"We are very pleased to welcome Brent to Cott. He has extensive global experience, as well as a demonstrated track record of driving improved business performance and profitability in highly competitive environments," said Cott chairman Frank Weise.
Analysts welcomed the appointment. "Cott is a company facing external and internal challenges. We believe Mr Willis's track record suggests he is an especially good individual to lead a turnaround," said Stifel Nicolaus analyst Mark Swartzberg in a research note.
Last month, Cott posted a first-quarter loss but insisted its turnaround plans were on track. Cott had seen earnings fall last year as consumers began turning away from carbonated soft drinks to healthier beverages.
Cott said that Willis had helped "foster significant growth in InBev's Chinese business and stabilised market share in South Korea for the first time in more than a decade". Willis also held positions as chief commercial officer and chief marketing and sales officer at InBev.
He added: "(Cott) has the potential to drive meaningful growth in shareowner value by becoming a stronger business partner for our retailer customers with superior execution in our core business and the acceleration of product and packaging innovation. These will be key priorities for me and the executive team over the next several months."
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