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Diageo appoints interim CEO as Menezes hospitalised

Drinks giant Diageo has confirmed that Debra Crew has become interim CEO with immediate effect following the hospitalisation of Sir Ivan Menezes.

Crew was due to take on the role of CEO at the end of its financial year this month with Menezes scheduled to retire from the board on 30 June.

In a statement, Diageo said: “Sir Ivan Menezes is currently in hospital receiving treatment for medical conditions including a stomach ulcer. Over the weekend, we learned that Ivan’s recovery suffered a significant setback due to complications, which followed emergency surgery on the ulcer.

“As a result of these developments, the Board of Directors has appointed Debra Crew Interim Chief Executive Officer with immediate effect, ahead of her appointment as Chief Executive Officer and joining the Board as an executive director on 1 July 2023. As previously announced, Ivan will retire from the Board on 30 June 2023.

“Our thoughts are with our much-loved colleague, Ivan, and his family. Out of respect for Ivan and his family’s privacy, we will not be commenting further at this time.”

Prior to being appointed chief operating officer in October 2022, Crew was president, Diageo North America and global supply, leading Diageo’s largest market to 14% organic net sales growth in fiscal 2022, following on from 20% organic net sales growth in the prior year.

Crew originally joined the Diageo board as a non-executive director in April 2019, before stepping down from the board when appointed president, Diageo North America in July 2020.

Crew is the former president and CEO of Reynolds American, Inc., where she delivered strong performance growth before the company’s acquisition, having previously served as president and chief operating officer, and president and chief commercial officer.

Prior to that, Crew spent five years at PepsiCo, where she served as president, North America nutrition; president, PepsiCo Americas beverages; and president, Western Europe region.

Sir Ivan Menezes has been highly praised for his decade at the top of Diageo, following the announcement that he would retire as chief executive.

Since he moved into the driving seat in 2013, Diageo’s shareholders have enjoyed a handsome 127% return of their investment compared to the FTSE100’s dismal 17% and today Diageo is responsible for £1 in every £10 of the UK’s food and drink exports.

He adopted and refined the strategy of his predecessor, Paul Walsh, making Diageo the pre-eminent producer at the top end of the global spirits market. He also further enhanced its reputation in beer through Guinness and East African Breweries.


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