The appointment of Debra Crew as Diageo’s CEO has been brought forward by a month, with Sir Ivan Menezes stepping back after requiring emergency surgery.

The London-listed spirits group announced on Monday (5 June) in a short statement that Menezes, 63, was in hospital recovering after receiving treatment for medical conditions including a stomach ulcer.

The Smirnoff brand owner said: “Over the weekend, we learned that Ivan’s recovery suffered a significant setback due to complications, which followed emergency surgery on the ulcer.

“As a result of these developments, the board of directors has appointed Debra Crew interim chief executive officer with immediate effect, ahead of her appointment as chief executive officer and joining the Board as an executive director on 1 July 2023.”

Menezes was due to retire as Diageo CEO on 30 June.

The Indian-born American/British businessman announced his retirement in March, following a ten-year stint as Diageo CEO.

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Crew had been widely tipped to take on the role of CEO from Menezes after being appointed as COO in October 2022.

The former US army captain has prior experience in a CEO role, having held the position for US tobacco company Reynolds American for a year in 2017. She also served as COO and CCO during a three-year stint at the company.

Prior to this, Crew spent five years at PepsiCo, where she worked in various presidential roles across the company’s nutrition and beverage arms. Before that, Crew had stints at Kraft Foods, Nestle and Mars.

Her time at Diageo began in July 2020, when she was appointed president of the company’s North America unit. In her two years in the role, Diageo’s sales in the region grew by 20% in fiscal 2021, and 14% in fiscal 2022.

Crew originally joined the Diageo board as a non-executive director in April 2019, before stepping down to take the role of president of its North American business.