Richard Hayes, international marketing director of whisky company Whyte & Mackay, and international brand director Michelle Audette are understood to have left the company. It is not known if either had another job to go to or if they will be replaced.
Thomas Veit, who joined W&M last year as commercial marketing director, is thought to have taken over Hayes’ role, although it is not known if it is permanent. W&M refused to comment but did confirm that Hayes and Audette had left.
It is also unclear whether the departures are linked to the ongoing takeover discussions between Vijay Mallya, the Indian drinks tycoon, and Vivian Imerman, the chairman of W&M. Mallya offered £473m for W&M in November, but Imerman is thought to be holding out for closer to £600m.
It is understood that Mallya, who heads drinks company the UB Group, is interested in the company’s stocks of aged whisky because of the soaring popularity of whisky among India’s emerging middle class. In July last year, UB made its first move outside Asia with the acquisition of French wine producer, Bouvet-Ladubay.
W&M is close to completing a £100m restructuring and rebranding programme, which is supposed to refocus the business on its core own brands and move it away from lower margin bulk and private-label business.
If UB does not succeed in buying W&M, drinks industry insiders believe the distiller will be the target of a bid from a rival spirits company such as William Grant & Sons.