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DISCUS switches chairs with Beam Suntory replacing Diageo

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Diageo and Beam Suntory have swapped places at the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) with the latter providing the next chair of the US trade body.

DISCUS held its summer board meeting earlier this week

DISCUS held its summer board meeting earlier this week

Clarkson Hine, Beam Suntory's senior VP of corporate communications & public affairs, was announced yesterday as the replacement for Diageo's former North America president, Deirdre Mahlan. The switch comes after Mahlan retired at the end of last month.

Hine's appointment, confirmed at DISCUS's board meeting this week, was augmented by the election of Matt Degan as vice-chair. Degan assumes the post alongside his current responsibilities as chief sales officer at Constellation Brands.

Hine, who also holds the chair at the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking, has previous experience at DISCUS, having filled the CEO role on an interim basis in 2018. He moved aside when the organisation appointed Chris Swonger in November.

"I want to thank Deirdre for her strong leadership, strategic guidance and dedication to DISCUS over the past two years," said Hine. "During her time as chair, the industry marked continued market share gains, and DISCUS grew its craft distiller membership by nearly 100 members and held its first industry-wide annual conference."

As well as dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the US spirits industry, DISCUS has the global tariff row on its desk. Speaking to just-drinks earlier this year, Swonger warned of the difficulties in quantifying the effect of tariffs on strengthening spirits brands. "I don't think a lot of focus has been on the impact of tariffs on brand-building, and I don't know how to measure it," Swonger told just-drinks in an exclusive interview in January.

"When you've got a brand with a lot of momentum that consumers are gravitating towards, and then there's an impact, we don't know the implications of that."

"The Trump administration has been bold in addressing long-standing trade barriers" - just-drinks speaks to Distilled Spirits Council CEO Chris Swonger


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