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Diageo keeps faith in expats with choice of Ireland’s successor

Outgoing East African Breweries Limited MD Charles Ireland. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU
Outgoing East African Breweries Limited MD Charles Ireland. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU 

Global beer producer Diageo has kept faith in expatriates to lead its subsidiary EABL with the appointment of British national Andrew Cowan as the new managing director.

The UK multinational, which bought a controlling 50.02 per cent stake in EABL 16 years ago, has since then appointed four foreigners to the NSE-listed firm’s top job.
The new MD is to replace his fellow Briton, Charles Ireland.

Mr Cowan joined Diageo in 2008 and has until his latest appointment been the multinational’s country director in Great Britain (GB) and prior to that commercial director in Ireland.

Mr Ireland leaves Kenya to take up a newly created role of general manager Great Britain, Ireland and France for Diageo. He will be based in London.

“Charles has transformed EABL to one of the best performing markets in Diageo and the fastest growing market for Guinness,” said John Kennedy, Diageo’s president for Europe, Russia and Turkey.

“Under Andrew’s leadership, Diageo GB has seen consistent top line growth, profit growth and spirits market share growth. Both are tremendous achievements and I congratulate them both on their new appointments.”

Diageo acquired the EABL controlling stake from its subsidiary Guinness in 2000, in a takeover that saw Patrick Healy (a Briton) continue to serve as managing director until 2004 when he was replaced by a Kenyan — Gerald Mahinda.

Mr Mahinda served as CEO and group managing director of EABL for five years between January 2004 and June 2009. He is presently the sub-Saharan Africa managing director for US foods manufacturer Kellogg’s.

Diageo in July 2009 appointed Nigerian Seni Adetu to replace him and three years later Devlin Hainsworth from Britain was hired to take over the reins of the region’s largest brewer.

Mr Hainsworth was, however, replaced just eight months into his tenure, paving the way for Mr Ireland take over in April 2013.

“We are certainly pleased to have Mr Cowan at EABL, as an established global business leader in the FMCG business,” said EABL board chairman Charles Muchene in a statement.

“We see him bringing in a lot of expertise and commercial leadership which will be a good fit for the business. This will help us consolidate on the good progress and solid foundation that we have built over the years.”

In the six months to December, EABL’s profits grew by over two-thirds to Sh7.7 billion boosted by the sale of land at Ruaraka and its glass manufacturing subsidiary Central Glass Industries.

EABL’s net sales for the six months to December grew eight per cent to Sh37.5 billion, buoyed by low-cost beer Senator Keg whose volumes more than doubled following a lowering of excise tax mid-last year.

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