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Brown-Forman names Lawson Whiting next CEO as Paul Varga lines up retirement

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Brown-Forman has announced the pending appointment of Lawson Whiting as its next CEO, following Paul Varga's decision to retire.

Lawson Whiting will become Brown-Forman CEO in January 2019

Lawson Whiting will become Brown-Forman CEO in January 2019

Whiting, a 21-year veteran of Brown-Forman, currently serves as the group's COO. He will step into the CEO role on 1 January next year.

Varga, who has been at Brown-Forman for 31 years, began his CEO tenure of the spirits brands side of the business in 2003. He succeeded Owsley Brown II as group CEO in 2005.

With his retirement scheduled to start at the end of this year, Varga will remain on Brown-Forman's board of directors.

"Paul entered the leadership ranks at a time when the future of American whiskey was in doubt, even in the US," said board chairman George Garvin Brown IV. "He will retire having successfully grown the Jack Daniel's franchise into one of the most valuable spirits trademarks in the world.

"His transformation of our portfolio, coupled with his multi-year execution of balanced shareholder-friendly capital deployment, marks his tenure as arguably the most successful CEO in our industry's modern era."

Whiting, 49, began his career with Brown-Forman in corporate development and investor relations. Since then he has held several leadership positions, taking on assignments in finance, marketing and commercial functions in the US and in Europe. He became COO in 2017.

"We believe that in Lawson we have another Brown-Forman leader with the strength of character and the intellectual rigour that is uniquely well-suited to lead our independent culture and our teams in balanced long-term thinking and global brand building," added Brown. 

Click here to read a just-drinks interview with Whiting from 2015


Sectors: HR – personnel, Spirits

Companies: Brown-Forman

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