Walsh hints at departure date

Diageo’s CEO, Paul Walsh, has hinted at a date for his departure and confirmed that newly appointed COO, Ivan Menezes is the likeliest candidate to succeed him.

Photo credit: Daniel Jones

However, he also made clear that he would like to fill in some of the gaps in the drinks company’s portfolio before moving on.

Walsh was speaking to the Wall Street Journal when he said that he intended to stay until at least 2014, seeing out three more financial years and the targets he set for himself and the group in August last year, which included sales growth of 6% year on year.

One key move that will likely occur this year is Diageo’s growing control over Tequila brand José Cuervo and an extension of the global distribution deal with the Beckmann family.

The current deal runs through to 2013 and Walsh said that, at present, the brand was not fully “paying its rent”.

Walsh also acknowledged the gap in Diageo’s Bourbon offering and commenting on rumours that the company would purchase Beam Inc, said that another option would be to replicate the success of the Sean Combs and Cîroc partnership instead.

The president of Diageo’s catalyst division, Stephen Rust, recently spoke in the US on the potential for the group’s existing brands, Bulleit Bourbon and George Dickel Tennessee whiskey to grow in the US market.

The news that Menezes is the most likely candidate to succeed Walsh is no surprise.

When he was appointed COO earlier this year, rumours immediately began to circulate that he was next in line when Walsh did finally depart and in fact he has been a favourite candidate for a number of years now.

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