Seagram global chief leaves

James Espey, Seagram’s most senior global marketer, has quit after a full-scale review revealed weaknesses in the company’s existing marketing structure.

A company spokeswoman says: “We’ve recognised that we need to sharpen our consumer marketing focus and delineate more clearly the marketing roles and responsibilities at global, regional and local levels.”

Seagram says Espey, who as president of Seagram global marketing, was responsible for two of the company’s biggest brands – Chivas and Glenlivet – has chosen to leave to follow an “entrepreneurial career”.

He will continue in a non-operational role as chairman of Seagram plc, the UK holding company.

The recommendations of an internal review group are being finalised but are understood to be part of a wider cost-cutting drive across the company. In July, Gordon Hessey, Seagram’s long-serving UK managing director, was replaced (MW July 10).

Speculation about a Seagram/Allied Domecq merger has been rife over the past year, but has intensified in recent weeks since Guinness and GrandMet announced their plans for a merger, patched up their differences with LVMH and emerged relatively unscathed from the scrutiny of European competition authorities.

Espey joined Seagram in 1992 as president of the Chivas and Glenlivet group and in 1995 was appointed chairman of Seagram plc.

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