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The company behind Johnnie Walker and Guinness appoints first female CEO

<i>Diageo</i><br/>Debra Crew will become the first female CEO of Diageo on July 1.
Debra Crew will become the first female CEO of Diageo on July 1.

By Hanna Ziady, CNN

One of the world’s largest alcoholic drinks companies has appointed its first female CEO.

Diageo, which makes Guinness beer and Johnnie Walker whisky, said Tuesday that chief operating officer Debra Crew would succeed Ivan Menezes, who will retire from the company after 10 years at the helm.

Crew is to take over on July 1, the company said in a statement. Her appointment means women will make up more than 50% of Diageo’s executive committee, it added.

Diageo is the seventh-largest member of the FTSE 100 index and will now become the largest UK-listed company led by a woman. There are just nine other FTSE 100 companies led by women, including pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and bank NatWest.

Diageo is the world’s fourth biggest alcoholic drinks company by market value, after AB InBev and China’s Wuliangye Yibin and Kweichow Moutai. It is fifth biggest if French luxury goods group LVMH, which sells Moët champagne and Hennessy cognac, is included.

Menezes is stepping down following a very successful tenure at Diageo, during which the company’s share price has almost doubled. It sells more Scotch whisky, tequila, vodka and gin by net sales value than any other business in the world.

“Ivan has transformed Diageo’s global footprint, brand portfolio and strategic focus, positioning our business as a clear leader in premium drinks,” chairman Javier Ferrán said in the statement.

“The Board has diligently planned for Ivan’s successor, and we are delighted to have appointed a leader of Debra’s calibre to the role,” he added. “I have no doubt that Diageo is in the right hands for the next phase of its growth.”

Crew joined Diageo in 2020 from PepsiCo. She is the former CEO of tobacco company Reynolds American and has worked at Kraft Foods, Nestle and Mars.

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