Fortune Brands chairman Norm Wesley has announced his retirement, with current president and CEO Bruce Carbonari set to replace him.

Wesley said today (30 September) that he would retire as chairman with immediate effect, after nine years in the post and two decades with Fortune Brands. 

Current CEO Bruce Carbonari will replace him, said the US group, which owns brands such as Courvoisier, Sauza and Maker's Mark via its Beam Global Spirits & Wine business.

"This completes the leadership transition we began more than a year ago when we announced Bruce would become our CEO," said Wesley, who will continue as a member of Fortune's board.

Carbonari, who has been on the board since August 2007, said of Wesley: "For the better part of this decade, Norm led a remarkable realignment at Fortune Brands that sharpened the company's focus on growth and returns, including the significant expansion of our high-return spirits."

One of Carbonari's main tasks will be to help Beam Global in its transition from the four-member Maxxium Worldwide distribution venture to a new bilateral distribution alliance with The Edrington Group.

He will also have to steer Fortune through a period of growing economic turmoil in the US.

Fortune reported net sales down by 7.2% to $3.90bn for the first six months of 2008. At Beam Global, half-year sales were flat, down by 1.1% to $1.12bn, with operating profit decreasing by 12.5% to $267.2m.