Diageo CEO Sir Ivan Menezes has decided to retire this June after almost a decade at the helm of the Johnnie Walker owner.
Menezes will be replaced by COO Debra Crew on 1 July.
Crew had been widely tipped to take on the role of CEO after being appointed as COO in October last year.
Menezes – who received a knighthood earlier this year for “services to business and to equality” – joined Diageo in 1997 when Guinness plc and Grand Metropolitan merged. He has held several senior positions at the company including COO and president of Diageo North America and chairman of its business in Asia Pacific. He was appointed CEO in July 2013.
During his time as CEO, Diageo has delivered consistent top and bottom-line growth, as well as completing a slew of high-profile acquisitions including George Clooney’s high-end Tequila brand Casamigos and Aviation Gin. He also oversaw the trading of the group’s underperforming Bushmills Irish whiskey brand for Cuervo’s Don Julio Tequila in 2015.
Diageo chairman Javier Ferrán paid tribute to the achievements of Menezes during his ten-year stint as CEO.
“Under his stewardship, Diageo has consistently delivered a truly impressive performance to become one of the most respected businesses in the world,” he said. “Ivan has transformed Diageo’s global footprint, brand portfolio and strategic focus, positioning our business as a clear leader in premium drinks.
“At the same time as delivering consistent shareholder returns, Ivan has nurtured a diverse and talented global workforce and made significant progress on the most material sustainability issues facing our business.
“Ivan leaves Diageo extremely well positioned for future growth, and we thank him again for everything he has helped us to achieve.”
Menezes’ himself added: “It has been an enormous honour leading Diageo over the past decade. I am extremely proud of what we have achieved during that time, and I would like to thank my 28,000 talented colleagues around the world for all of their hard work, creativity and passion.
Crew 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.
“I am focused on continuing Diageo’s extraordinary track record of building world-leading brands and enhancing our reputation as one of the most responsible businesses in what I believe to be the most exciting consumer products category,” Crew said in a statement. “It is an incredible privilege to be leading Diageo through the next phase of its development.”
Ferran was effusive in his praise of Crew, stating he had “no doubt” the company’s future was in good hands.
“Having diligently planned for Ivan’s successor and we are delighted to have appointed a leader of Debra’s calibre to the role,” he said. “Debra has been a highly valued member of Diageo’s leadership team in recent years with an impressive track record of delivery both at Diageo and across other global consumer goods companies.
“She has deep consumer industry expertise as well as proven strategic capabilities, strong operational performance and a clear ability to build and lead teams. I have no doubt that Diageo is in the right hands for the next phase of its growth.”
Diageo’s shares stood at 3,551p at 10:22 BST today, down 0.89% on the day.