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Berry Bros in managerial shake-up

The managing director of drinks merchant Berry Bros & Rudd, Hugh Sturges, has left the company after 14 years, with chairman Simon Berry temporarily taking over his role on the wine side of the business.

Berry Bros & Rudd, which has a 300-year history, has been facing financial problems lately, reporting significant pre-tax losses for the past two financial years (Photo: Wiki)

Sturges’ departure is one of several major changes at the head of the company, which were announced internally last month but have now been publicly confirmed.

According to the company, the changes are said to “harness the talents” of the management team and more “fully integrate the family within the business”.

Joining as financial director in 2001 before becoming managing director in 2006, Sturges played a part in the selling off of the company’s stake in the Cutty Sark whisky brand in 2010. He also had a hand in the company’s recent strategy change to focus more on distribution for premium spirits and wine in Asia.

Saying that he looks forward to pursuing “fresh challenges”, Sturges commented: “I am proud of the progress we have achieved since 2001 and feel that now is the time for me to hand over the reins to others both within and in addition to the families.”

Chairman Simon Berry said, “We thank Hugh for his contributions to the business over the past 14 years, especially as managing director. Hugh’s role has been very important to the transformation of the company’s history.”

The shake-up comes at a time of increasing concern over BB&R’s finances, as the company reported significant pre-tax losses of £7.3m and £5.5m in the last two financial years. The company maintains that investment in its “five-year plan” – which includes an increased focus on Asia – is “firmly on track” and that the trend of shrinking losses will continue.

A new management board is now being chaired by Simon Berry, and comprises Elizabeth Rudd, Edward Rudd, Jeremy Parsons and Mandy Venters.

Role changes include chief executive Jeremy Parsons taking on the job of commercial director for the BB&R Group, while also remaining chief executive of spirits. Natalie Tennent has become chief operating officer for BBR Spirits, assuming some of Parsons’ responsibilities.

Geordie Willis has become creative director, and Edward Rudd has become financial planning director.

Finally, Kirsten Kilby has become chief executive of the company’s wine business excluding Asia, and will report to Simon Berry and the new management board.

“With a new management team in place that includes family members, long-standing employees of the company as well as exceptionally talented newcomers, we now look forward to another chapter of unprecedented success,” said Berry.

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