UD hires First Choice chief as md

The Guinness-owned United Distillers UK has raided holiday company First Choice to recruit its new managing director Peter Phillipson.

He succeeds Gerd Biedenbacher, who left the company in February and returned to Germany for personal reasons, according to UD (MW March 8).

Sources suggest Biedenbacher left following disagreement over the sales strategy for Bell’s whisky, which failed to perform as well as expected over the Christmas period despite heavy investment in TV advertising for the first time.

UD UK is the sales and marketing company responsible for brands, including Gordon’s gin and Bell’s.

Phillipson, who is managing director of First Choice UK, worked at UD between 1990 and 1994. His last role was as marketing director of the international region. Prior to that he spent 13 years at Gillette in various sales and marketing roles in the UK and overseas.

He joins as the new sales and marketing structure at UD comes into effect. The restructure has created separate customised operations for each of the off-trade sectors which now have their own specialist teams responsible for account management, channel marketing, finance and logistics.

The changes are a result of a review after Biedenbacher’s ap-pointment in June.

Biedenbacher was temporarily replaced by his predecessor Graham Thompson, who is now understood to be returning to his post as commercial development director Europe.

First Choice is understood to be looking externally for Phillipson’s replacement. Phillipson will remain with the holiday company until a successor is found.

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