Stachowicz said he wants to focus on regaining market share in Poland

Stachowicz said he wants to focus on regaining market share in Poland

The new CEO of Stock Spirits has said new results this week prove he has responded to investor attacks on the company, but warned there is "still more to do" following recent turmoil.

Mirek Stachowicz was appointed full-time CEO yesterday after being made interim-head in April. His initial appointment followed the departure of Chris Heath, who left amid accusations from some investors that the company was neglecting its core Polish market.

However, in first-half results released yesterday, Stock posted a strong rebound in Poland along with a solid overall performance, allowing for cautious optimism among the company's new leadership team.

"I wouldn't write home about it yet," Stachowicz told just-drinks. "There's more to do, definitely."

"But our investors wanted us to fix Poland and I think we are beginning to demonstrate we are capable. We heard from investors that we should postpone other things before we fix Poland. We postponed other things, specifically mergers and acquisitions."

Poland accounts for about 55% of Stock's sales and about half of its EBITDA.

First-half results showed that part of Stock's new strategy in Poland includes price cuts on its vodka as it tries to regain market share from rivals including Roust Inc's Russian Standard brand. Stock has been hit hard in Poland, especially by the introduction of a 15% rise in excise duty on strong alcohol at the start of 2014, and has seen market share fall from 38% to 25%.

Stachowicz robustly denied that the new pricing signals a policy U-turn for the company after chairman David Maloney wrote to shareholders in April that the company would not enter an "aggressive price war".

"We are not engaging in a price war," Stachowicz said. "We are taking our brands and using sophisticated elasticity models to tell us what price point delivers what change in volume. We know from these models that our brands enjoy a premium because we were not discounting them heavily like our competitors. We don't need to undercut our competitors to grow our volumes."

Stachowicz said he plans to focus on regaining market share in Poland, but refused to be drawn on when Stock might return to its 2012 pre-crisis sales and profits.

"If I was to commit to a target I might limit my options," he said. "I think we are doing everything possible."