As marketing and innovation director for Western Europe, Barwell was responsible for brand and creative strategy across its portfolio in 16 of the Guinness and Smirnoff maker’s biggest markets. All category marketing teams reported into him following a 2011 restructure that saw the previous territory-based structure scrapped.

It is not thought he has a job to go to. A Diageo statement says Barwell “has decided that it is now time to take on a new challenge in his career….and will pursue these outside Diageo”.

Barwell joined Diageo in 1998 as RTD marketing director. He held several senior roles including stints as marketing director for J&B Whisky before taking on his current role in 2011.

Andy Fennell, chief marketing officer of Diageo, who Barwell reported to, says: “Matt has been a key part of marketing and its success for Diageo for the past 15 years in both developed and developing markets. We will certainly miss Matt and wish him all the best.”

Diageo is to replace Barwell.