Diageo GB chief exits in restructure

Diageo’s British chief, Simon Litherland, is to leave the drinks maker as the company continues the overhaul of its European management structure.


The Guinness and Smirnoff owner is scrapping Litherland’s GB managing director role – he previously oversaw all business operations, including sales and marketing, in Great Britain and Ireland – and replacing it with a country director.

Irish commercial director Andrew Cowan will fill the newly created role. Responsibilities include commercial oversight of Diageo’s beer and spirits brands, public and corporate affairs.

The change follows Diageo’s switch to a category-led approach in Western Europe, a move which recently saw the company announce that all territory marketing director roles will be scrapped.

The producer is looking to shift resources to faster growing developing countries, reducing dependence on sluggish markets in Europe and the US. The company expects emerging markets to contribute half of global revenue by 2016.

Other management changes include the appointment of Irish MD John Kennedy as chief operating officer for Western Europe. Kennedy will be charged with the “creation of a distinctive performance and customer orientated culture”.

Northern European managing director and former GB managing director, Benet Slay, is also to leave.

It is not known if Litherland or Slay have jobs to go to. A Diageo spokesman confirmed Litherland’s departure was because of changes to its European operating model, adding that he was an “experienced and respected leader”.

Meanwhile, rival Pernod Ricard has named South African chief David de Mardt as its new UK managing director. The move follows Jean-Manuel Spriet move to head up the Absolut owner’s Korean business.

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