Kenyan picked to head Diageo in Europe, Russia

Peter Ndegwa
Peter Ndegwa took over as the general manager in continental Europe from July. PHOTO | COURTESY  

A Kenyan has been appointed to be the first African to head beer giant Diageo’s business operations in continental Europe and Russia.

Peter Ndegwa, who was previously chief executive of Guinness Nigeria Breweries Plc, also a Diageo unit, took over as general manager in continental Europe from July.

He will be based in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Mr Ndegwa joined East African Breweries Limited #ticker:EABL in January 2004 as a director and head of strategy. Previously, he worked with PricewaterhouseCoopers. He was sales director between 2006 and 2008, the year he was appointed the group finance director.

Between 2011 and 2015, he was managing director of Guinness Ghana Breweries.


He distinguished himself as a corporate turnaround artiste in both the Ghana and Nigeria businesses.

When he moved to Nigeria in 2015, Mr Ndegwa found Guinness Nigeria Breweries Plc in decline at a time when the country was also experiencing economic challenges with growth in the gross domestic product at only 2.7 per cent.

Nigeria was a victim of declining oil prices and an economy that was too reliant on the commodity. Diversification was limited, thereby exposing the largest economy in Africa to commodity price shocks.

The economy went into negative growth in 2016 and only recovered to a paltry 0.8 per cent GDP growth last year.

Mr Ndegwa grew sales by double digits by diversifying products and also raising cash through a rights issue to drive growth. The growth happened in 2017 and this year.

“I was charged with the role of transforming a declining business back to growth. It was a time of great volatility because the oil prices shocks had pushed the economy into a near collapse,” said Mr Ndegwa in an interview in Nairobi.

By the time he left Nigeria in June, the company’s share price had risen by up to 50 per cent.

When heading the Ghana operation, the company saw its sales revenues rise by double digits.