Scottish Courage marketing director John Nicolson faces a testing time in the months ahead, but those who have worked with him reckon he is more than up to the task.
One source says: “He’s one of the best team players around although it’s always clear that he leads the team. When you meet him he always refers to his team and makes a point of praising them. He’s not at all insecure, as people in his position often are.”
Nicolson’s team skills have been finely honed at Courage, where he has been group executive director marketing since 1993 and has also been in charge of the Courage Beer Company – Courage’s take-home division.
And in that period Nicolson has seen the company undergo enormous upheaval as it moved out of retailing and pub ownership to concentrate solely on brewing and brand management.
Nicolson, 41, began his career as products officer for Vymura at ICI’s paints division. He then joined Brooke Bond for eight years and worked on PG Tips, Red Mountain Coffee and Oxo. In 1991 he became marketing director for Birds Eye Wall’s before joining Courage.
It is difficult to find any one who has a bad word to say about Nicolson. He is generally regarded as genial, good company, quick-witted and a man who enjoys sampling his product portfolio.
Gary Duckworth, chairman of Duckworth Finn Grubb Waters, says he is also very bright and good at getting brilliant work out of advertising agencies.
However, Nicolson has a steely side which will prove useful when it comes to rationalising brands and costs. “He can be very tough,” says one source. “But it is always justified, it is not just aggressive posturing, which you get with some marketing directors.”