Campari Group CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz is to step down after 16 years at the helm of the Italian spirits major to “pursue personal passions”.

He will be succeeded by Matteo Fantacchiotti, managing director of the group’s Asia-Pacific arm, in April next year. Fantacchiotti has been appointed deputy CEO in the meantime.

Kunze-Concewitz will remain on the board as a non-executive director at the Appleton Estate brand owner, it said in a statement today (12 September).

He has been at the company for 18 years, beginning his tenure as chief marketing officer in 2005. He joined Campari Group following 15 years as marketing director at US FMCG giant Procter & Gamble.

Kunze-Concewitz said his role at the Milan-headquartered company had been “the most exciting professional journey in my career”.

“The very strong health of our brands and our robust organisation now allow me to retire to pursue my personal passions and enjoy family life to the fullest,” he said. “I am very happy to pass the baton to Matteo, a top manager whom I personally recruited and who already contributed significantly to Campari, thanks to his leadership capabilities and deep expertise of the spirits industry, particularly in the super-premium end.”

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He added Fantacchiotti was “capable of passionately leading great extended teams and achieving strong results”.

It comes as a change in the group’s voting structure led to speculation about the group’s plans in the past month – including whispers the group might be about to splash out on ‘transformational’ M&A.

Kunze-Concewitz has overseen 27 acquisitions worth €3bn ($3.22bn) since his appointment to CEO in 2007.

During his tenure, the group has expanded its international footprint from six to 25 “in-market direct companies”, which now account for approximately 93% of group sales. Its production facilities have grown from nine to 23.

Campari Group said: “Bob’s contribution to Campari is unparalleled, growing the company size by circa three times in net sales and profitability, thanks to a combination of organic and external growth.”

In its first-half results announced in June, the Aperol maker’s net sales rose 19.2% on an organic basis. The group said the result represented a 45% increase on the first half of 2019 – or a three-year CAGR for its organic net sales of 13.2%.

In the six months to 30 June, reported net sales grew 25.6% to €1.26bn (US$1.28bn), further boosted by the strong US dollar. First-half EBIT was up 33% at €288.9m. Group net profit rose 24.8% to €199.1m.

Fantacchiotti joined the group following more than 20 years across beverage industry majors including Nestlé Waters, Diageo and Carlsberg.

He said: “Bob leaves Campari Group in a phenomenal position. The impressive achievements of the group under Bob’s visionary leadership are an inspiration for me to continue on this journey, building on our proven growth strategy.”

Shares in Campari Group were down 5.1% at €11.26 at 11:35 CEST today.