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Molson Coors CEO to resign after sales slump

The chief executive of brewing giant Molson Coors is resigning, as the company posted disappointing quarterly sales this week.

“After a 36-year career with the last 30 years in the beer business Mark Hunter indicated his desire to retire from his position as Molson Coors President and CEO in order to spend more time with his wife Fiona and two children,” Andrew Molson, the brewery’s chairman, said.

Hunter became CEO and president of the company in 2015, following on from his role as head of Molson Coors in Europe. He will step down from the post in September.

During his time at the company Hunter played key roles in its acquisition of Carling in 2002, the merger between Molson and Coors in 2005, and the formation of its US joint venture, MillerCoors, in 2008.

Molson added that the move is part of the beer company’s “succession planning process at work.”

The news comes as the brewer posted disappointing sales figures for the second time this year. Net sales revenue decreased 4.4% to $2.95 billion compared to the same period last year. Sales in the US business fell 2.9% year-on-year, and declined 6.1% in Canada. Net income for the second quarter was $329.4 million or earnings of $1.52 per share, down from $424.1 million in the same period in 2018.

Hunter said: “After a solid start in the first four months of the year, May and June were challenging reflecting unfavourable weather and weak industry demand across our major geographies, resulting in a disappointing volume performance in the quarter.

“Despite this backdrop, we executed our plans for incremental brand investment to drive accelerated portfolio premiumisation and innovation impact across our business.”

Molson Coors’ profits had already suffered in the first three months of 2019. Net sales for the US business’s first quarter were $2.3 billion, down by 1.2% year on year, which the company said was driven by volume declines and “unfavourable foreign currency movements.”

The company has turned its attention to investing in global and craft beer brands, and snapped up London brewer Hop Stuff after it went into administration in July.

Molson Coors’ US chief executive, Gavin Hattersley, will replace Hunter in September this year. Hattersley has led the US business – MillerCoors – for the past four years, having working as Molson Coors’ CFO for the three years prior.

Molson said Hattersley is “a skilled leader who understands what is required to drive shareholder value and build our portfolio of leading brands.”

“We respect Mark’s wishes and thank him for the significant impact he has made at our company. He’s led the company through a period of tremendous transformational change and has successfully helped more than double the size of our company. ”

Commenting on his retirement, Hunter said: “It’s been a great privilege to serve as Molson Coors President and CEO but I am also very much looking forward to the next chapter which will be highlighted by spending more time with my wife Fiona and our two children back in the UK. I will forever remain a brand ambassador and advocate for this business and will be there to support Gavin every step of the way.”

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