UD overhauls spirit brands management

United Distillers is introducing sweeping changes to its UK marketing structure, in a bid to turn around the disappointing performance of leading brands Bell’s whisky and Gordon’s gin.

The restructure aims to focus more tightly on marketing to the drinks trade, where the company’s top brands have been hit by stiff price competition between UK spirits brands.

The company has created six “trade channels” and has removed control of trade marketing from marketing director Andy Neal. His title changes to director of consumer marketing, and he will concentrate on brand strategy.

Each of the six new trade channels will have its own director. The new divisions will combine sales, marketing, finance and distribution.

The off-trade operation is split into three units. Multiple grocers will be headed by Nick Garland, a former sales controller; George Thomson, former marketing controller for Classic Malts and Johnnie Walker, becomes director for specialist off-licences; and Gordon Willoughby joins from UD’s central marketing unit to direct the convenience stores and cash and carry unit.

In the on-trade – sales through licensed premises – Kim Williams, a former trade marketing controller, becomes director for venture outlets – youth bars and clubs.

A director has yet to be appointed for traditional outlets.

The new structure, which takes effect in April, has been brought in after a review by UK managing director Gerd Biedenbacher, who joined in June last year.

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