Lion MD James Brindley has called ‘last shout’ and announced he is preparing to step down at the end of 2021 after 27 years with the brewer and 12 as Managing Director of Lion Australia.
He will be replaced by David Smith who joins Lion from Diageo, where he is currently Managing Director, Southern Europe. Smith (below) was previously MD of Diageo Australia.
Lion CEO Stuart Irvine said: “On behalf of the entire Lion business, I’d like to thank James Brindley for his outstanding leadership and commitment to Lion’s people, customers and communities. Over his 27-year career with Lion, James has made an incredible contribution to both our business and the wider industry.
“James has delivered 10 years of above-target performance for Lion Australia, led the acquisitions of Boag’s and Little Creatures, Lion’s share in Four Pillars and most recently, the proposed acquisition of Fermentum Group.
“As always but over the past 18-months in particular, James has demonstrated true partnership through the most challenging period our industry has seen. I know that our customers will join me in thanking James for his support during this time.”
Brindley said: “After many years being part of this wonderful industry, I have decided it is time to call last shout and move on. I am grateful to the incredible people I have had the privilege to with work with, not only colleagues but especially our customers and community partners.”
In other executive changes announced today, Anubha Sahasrabuddhe will be joining Lion’s Group Leadership Team as Chief Marketing Officer after joining Lion in January 2021 as Marketing, Consumer and Brand Director. In her new role, Anubha will be responsible for marketing across Australia and New Zealand.
“This appointment is a wonderful endorsement of Anubha’s contribution since joining us at the beginning of the year and a clear demonstration of our commitment to elevate the needs of the consumer across our business,” Irvine said.
“I am thrilled to be joining Lion’s Group Leadership Team as CMO,” said Sahasrabuddhe. “After a fast start at Lion, I’m excited by the motivation and support across the business to step-change our consumer focus. I look forward to bringing a consumer perspective to the leadership table and continuing to drive our brand marketing into new territory.”
In announcing the appointment of David Smith, Irvine said: “David is a highly respected industry leader and already a familiar face to many of our Australian partners. He is committed to growing businesses through patient investment, enduring partnerships and motivating his teams to deliver outstanding outcomes for customers.
“We look forward to welcoming him back home to Australia and to Lion in January.”
Smith said: “I am delighted to be joining Lion, a business I have long admired for its leading brands, great culture and fantastic team. I look forward to working with the Lion team to create growth for the business and our customers.”
Lion also on the hunt for new CEO
The announcement by Brindley follows Lion CEO Stuart Irvine revealing in May that he had decided to step down after eight years in the top job.
Irvine said: “Now is the right time for me to hand the baton to a new leader. I’m proud of the Lion I will leave behind – a focused business well placed for growth at home and abroad. It is a business focused on the consumer, with the foundation of new data and technology capability and purpose at the heart of its decision-making.
“I feel very privileged to be a part of Lion’s story and have the opportunity to lead such a dedicated and passionate team of people. I am committed to setting Lion up for this next chapter by ensuring a smooth transition and working with my leadership team to deliver our growth plans for 2021.”
Lion noted that Irvine’s decision follows the successful delivery of a transformation program to refocus the business on its core adult beverages businesses, establish a flexible and agile technology platform and diversify into craft beer and spirits adjacencies as a foundation for new growth.
After successfully completing the sale of Lion Dairy & Drinks in early 2021, the company is entering a new mid-term planning cycle and Irvine feels a new leader should deliver the company’s strategy.
Lion Chairman Sir Rod Eddington said: “On behalf of Kirin and the Lion Board I’d like to thank Stuart for his leadership through what has been a time of unprecedented change across the food and beverage sectors.
“During Stuart’s tenure, Lion has become a re-focused adult beverages business and expanded its footprint in craft beer and spirits in both Australia and overseas. Lion’s international business is already delivering encouraging growth with recent results from the United States especially positive given the challenges of COVID-19.
“Stuart’s commitment to sustainable business saw Lion become Australasia’s first large scale carbon neutral brewer, identify and close its gender pay gap and drive gender diversity by setting ambitious all-of-company gender targets and putting in place concrete strategies to achieve them.”
The Lion Board has commenced a global executive search to identify a successor. In the meantime, Irvine will continue to lead the business.