The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has reached outside of the drinks industry to appoint Brigid Simmonds OBE as its new CEO.

Simmonds, who previously spent 17 years with trade body Business in Sport and Leisure, will take up her new role on 7 September, the BBPA said late yesterday (25 August).

She replaces interim CEO David Long, who has held the post since previous CEO Rob Hayward quit in March.

Simmonds joins the BBPA as its own figures show that 52 pubs are closing down every week and the Office Fair Trading conducts an investigation into the legal tie between pub companies and tenants. Coupled with this, beer sales by volume in the UK slipped by 8% and 5% in the first and second quarters of 2009 respectively.

Despite these issues, Simmonds' main challenge may be to maintain unity within the trade.

Sources familiar with the situation told just-drinks that in-fighting on policy between BBPA members led to Hayward's departure, which was announced during a critical period for the BBPA's "axe the beer tax" campaign - only days before the UK Chancellor's 2009 Budget Speech.

BBPA chairman Michael Turner said: "I feel confident that Brigid will unite the industry, drive the agenda and continue the recent work of putting the BBPA on the front foot."

He added: "She has an excellent reputation and track record of working closely and effectively with ministers, officials and parliamentarians."
 
Simmonds said: "I very much look forward to working with the industry to promote the positive role pubs and beer play in our economy, community and the daily lives of millions of people throughout the country.  I relish the opportunity to take forward the agenda on socially responsible drinking and communicate the benefits of a product which is second to none."