The big drinks industry CEO reshuffle

It has been a turbulent year for the Australia drinks industry, with a raft of craft breweries and distilleries closing or going into administration, wine companies announcing strategic reviews and numerous drinks CEO resignations.

Having trouble keeping track of the changing of the guard? Here’s our handy guide.

Moet Hennessy Australia: Ashley Powell

Former Moet Hennessy Australia & New Zealand Marketing Director Ashley Powell has returned to the business as its Managing Director.

Powell left Australia in 2019 to become Managing Director, Moët Hennessy Champagne and Wines Korea. In 2021 he was appointed Managing Director at Moët Hennessy Diageo Hong Kong & Macau.

Powell oversaw marketing for Moet Hennessy Australia for four years and had been with the drinks manufacturer and distributor for 11 years before moving overseas.

Diageo: Angus McPherson

Diageo Australia Managing Director Angus McPherson announced last month that he was stepping down from the role to pursue an opportunity outside the company. McPherson was appointed Managing Director of Diageo in 2020 (replacing David Smith, below).

McPherson was previously Managing Director for TWE Australia & New Zealand.

“It has been an absolute privilege to work at Diageo,” McPherson said. “The team’s resilience and passion for the business and its brands, particularly as we managed the challenges of COVID, is something I am incredibly proud of.”

Diageo has just appointed Dan Hamilton as his replacement.

Tribe Breweries: Heath Baker

Australian independent brewing company Tribe Breweries has exited voluntary administration following Elsie Cameron Foundation becoming its new owner, with Heath Baker appointed as its new CEO, replacing Amarto Basu.

Baker brings with him more than 25 years of corporate drinks and brewery experience across major brands, including Coca-Cola Europacific Partners as its Head of International Alcohol.

“The completion of the administration process marks a fresh start for Tribe Breweries,” said Baker.

“We are extremely proud that despite this challenge, we maintained supply to all of our customers throughout the process and now with the business on renewed footing, this enables us to provide more certainty for our employees, customers and suppliers.

“We are excited to be able to refocus on our long-term growth and efficiency plans and move forward with our team, suppliers and customers from our Goulburn Brewery.” 

Baccardi: Luiz Schmidt

Bacardi Australia announced Schmidt as its new Managing Director in May. He has more than 20 years of experience leading long-term marketing and business strategy in companies such as Brown-Forman and Edrington in Australia, United States, Brazil, Mexico and Latin America. His last Australian role was as senior brand manager for Jack Daniel’s and Gentleman Jack from 2012-2014.

Schmidt replaced Simon Owen, who became Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand in April 2021 following Mauricio Vergara becoming PATRÓN President and Chief Operating Officer. Owen has returned to the UK to head up plant-based company Redefine Meat.

Bacardi announced the retirement of Francis Debeuckelaere, Regional President Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand (EUROC) in March. Vijay Subramaniam, Regional President of AMEA and Global Travel Retail added Australia and New Zealand, formerly under the EUROC region, to his responsibilities.

Coles Liquor: Michael Courtney

Courtney has just taken over from Darren Blackhurst as Coles Chief Executive Liquor. Previously he led the Coles Express business for four years, delivering a winning strategy in the petrol and convenience market and overseeing a successful transition to Viva Energy. Most recently Michael spent the past six months in the eCommerce business, transforming Coles’ customer offer.

Courtney said: “Since my appointment in June, I have spent time visiting many Coles Liquor shops across Australia, and meeting with our dedicated team members. I have been impressed by the strength of our brands, the passion of our team and the pace of our national transformation programs which offer customers a wider range of local wines, craft beers, and boutique spirits, as well as an improved overall customer experience.”

Blackhurst joined the company in 2020, replacing Acting Liquor Director Cathi Scarce who was in the role for two years after Greg Davis was appointed as the Chief Operating Officer of Coles.

Lyre’s Spirit Co: Paul Gloster

Lyre’s CMO Paul Gloster has taken over from founder Mark Livings as CEO. Gloster has been with Lyre’s since 2019 and previously worked at Coca-Cola Amatil and Pacific Beverages.

Gloster said: “Our new expanded leadership structure ensures accountability across all our strategic priorities and business functions. I am excited to work with such a capable and passionate team that is ready to lead the business into our next exciting stage.”

Robert Iervasi, Asahi, Allpress

Asahi Beverages: Robert Iervasi

Asahi Beverages announced last month that its Group CEO Robert Iervasi was leaving the business, effective immediately.

After 16 years with the business, Asahi said Iervasi had decided it was time for a break to spend more time with his family for personal reasons and to enjoy a career break.

Roland van Bommel, Chairman of Asahi Holdings Australia, said: “Robert joined Asahi Beverages in 2006 and during this time he worked across many aspects of the business. In 2019, he was promoted to Group CEO of our Oceania business.

“Robert played a critical role in the successful integration of Carlton & United Breweries and the Oceania business has delivered consistent business results under his leadership.

Asahi Beverages is currently on the hunt for a nee Group CEO.

Dan Murphy’s: Agnieszka Pfeiffer-Smith

Endeavour Group announced the appointment of Pfeiffer-Smith as its new Dan Murphy’s MD last year. Pfeiffer-Smith is currently the Chief Strategy Officer for Endeavour Group.

She replaced Alex Freudmann, who returned to the UK after 13 years in Australia to become the new Managing Director of Food at British retailer M&S.

Top Shelf: Trent Fraser

Top Shelf International appointed former Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH) Vice President Trent Fraser as its new CEO in April.

The appointment took immediate effect, with Managing Director Drew Fairchild resigning from the position.

Mighty Craft: Mark Haysman

Mighty Craft announced last month that Mark Haysman had tendered his resignation as CEO and Managing Director effective on 3 July 2023 and as Director of the company effective immediately.

The Board has appointed Jess Lyons as Acting Chief Executive Officer.

This week Mighty Craft revealed the outcomes of its Board-lead strategic review. Chair Chris Malcolm said: “During the last six weeks, Mighty Craft’s newly appointed Board and interim CEO has progressed its review of all aspects of the company. It is very clear to us that the Mighty Craft business model requires urgent change.

Lion: Sam Fischer

Sam Fischer joined Lion Group as its CEO in July 2022, following Stuart Irvine stepping down after nine years in the role.

Fischer was previously at Diageo, where he was President Asia Pacific and Global Travel, and a member of the Global Diageo Executive Committee.

The new-old drinks CEO guard

The last big drinks industry reshuffle was in 2021. Here’s a rundown on the new-old guard …

Accolade: Robert Foye

Foye was appointed CEO of Accolade Wines in 2020, replacing Matthew Stanton (now CEO of Barambah Organics. Foye was previously COO of Treasury Wine Estates.

Lion: David Smith

Smith was announced as MD of Lion Beer in 2021, replacing James Brindley, who stepped down after 27 years at the brewer. Smith was previously MD of Diageo Australia, before moving to Diageo Europe as MD in 2020.

CUB: Danny Celoni

Celoni was announced as CEO of CUB in 2021, replacing Peter Filipovic. Celoni was previously CEO of PepisCo.

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners: Peter West

West was appointed MD of Coca-Cola Amatil in 2018 and is now MD of CCEP’s Pacific division. West was previously Managing Director of Lion Dairy & Drinks until 2017.

Chris Baddock

Metcash: Chris Baddock

Baddock was appointed CEO of Metcash Liquor in 2019. He was previously Director of Pinnacle & Direct at Endeavour Group. Before that he spent 11 years with Lion, in roles including Managing Director of Fine Wine Partners.

Campari: Simon Durrant

Durrant was appointed Managing Director of Campari Australia, New Zealand & Pacific Islands in 2018. He was formerly Accolade Sales Director.

Australian Vintage: Craig Garvin

Garvin was appointed CEO of Australian Vintage Limited in 2019, following Neil McGuigan’s retirement. He was Sales Director at Lion in 2003 before moving to Arnotts, Tabcorp and Parmalat.

Australian Vintage announced last week that it is initiating a strategic review that may lead to potential third-party interest from domestic and international parties, in part or in whole, for the company.

Pernod Ricard Winemakers: Brian Fry

Fry was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Pernod Ricard Winemakers in 2019, following Bruno Rain’s retirement. Fry was appointed Managing Director of Pernod Ricard Pacific in 2016. He was Regional Manager Asia/Pacific for Orlando Wyndham in 2000 and went on to become President and CEO of Pernod Ricard USA.

Brown-Forman: Eveline Albarracin

Albarracin was aappointed Managing Director, Brown-Forman ANZPI in 2019. She joined the drinks industry following the retirement of Marc Satterthwaite.

Treasury Wine Estates: Tim Ford

Treasury Wine Estates confirmed its Chief Operating Officer, Tim Ford, had stepped into the role of Chief Executive Officer in 2020, following Michael Clarke’s retirement.

Mighty Craft announces results of strategic review

Australian Vintage announces strategic review

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