UD chief in sudden exit

Drinks giant Guinness shaken by sudden departure of United Distillers’ UK managing director

The managing director of United Distillers UK sales and marketing company, which handles brands like Gordon’s gin and Bell’s whisky, has suddenly left the company.

Gerd Biedenbacher will be replaced temporarily at the Guinness-owned company by his predecessor Graham Thompson.

Biedenbacher is returning to his native Germany for personal reasons, says the company. It is understood the move was a surprise for UD which has no one lined up to re place him.

As well as the UK, Biedenbacher also held responsibility for UD sales and marketing interests in Eire.

Biedenbacher had been in the Perth-based post since June last year. He moved to Scotland from Hamburg, where he was managing director of UD Europe duty free and Scandinavian operations.

His predecessor Thompson moved to London as commercial development director Europe. He took on responsibility for the overall management of the 20m European reorganisation programme announced in 1994, which is due to be completed in 1997. Biedenbacher leaves shortly after the introduction of a new sales and marketing structure which will take effect from April.

There are two key factors behind the new structure: it emphasises customised operations for each of the off-trade channels, which now have their own specialist director and team responsible for account management, channel marketing, finance and logistics. UD is also stepping up customer service. The new structure was the result of a review following Biedenbacher’s appointment in June.

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