Diageo has appointed former marketer Debra Crew as its new CEO, succeeding Sir Ivan Menezes as he retires in July after 10 years in post.
Crew will be promoted from her current role as Diageo’s chief operating officer. She will become the alcoholic drinks giant’s first female chief executive, and one of only nine female CEOs in the UK’s 100 most highly-valued listed companies.
Before joining Diageo in 2020 as North American president, Crew was CEO at tobacco company Reynolds American. She is also an experienced FMCG brand leader, having held senior general management roles at PepsiCo and Mars.
Her marketing career included four years at Nestle in senior level marketing roles, latterly as senior vice president of marketing, following seven years in marketing at Kraft Foods (now Kraft Heinz), latterly as category business director. She has also served as a board member for Diageo, Mondelez, Newell Brands, and Stanley Black & Decker.
Diageo commits to ‘strong’ marketing investment as efficiency improvesCrew has a tough act to follow as CEO. Over his decade-long tenure, Menezes is credited with helping Diageo make “great strides” towards becoming “one of the best performing, most trusted and respected consumer products companies in the world”.
Sales at the company behind the Guinness, Bailey’s and Johnnie Walker brands have soared in recent years, with net sales up another 18.4% to £9.4bn over the six months to 31 December. Diageo attributed this growth to its diversified footprint, “advantaged portfolio”, strong brands and push for premiumisation. Operating profit rose 15.2% to £3.2bn.
The business ramped up its organic marketing investment by 6.8% to £1.58bn over the same period, reflecting what Diageo described as “strong, consistent investment” in its brands. The company has increased its marketing investment by almost £1bn since 2017.
Chair Javier Ferrán says: “Ivan has transformed Diageo’s global footprint, brand portfolio and strategic focus, positioning our business as a clear leader in premium drinks.”
Meanwhile, Crew says she is grateful to her predecessor for the work he has done in positioning the business for future growth.
“I am focused on continuing Diageo’s extraordinary track record of building world-leading brands and enhancing our reputation as one of the most responsible businesses in what I believe to be the most exciting consumer products category,” she adds.