UK – The in-waiting first woman CEO of Diageo, Debra Crew, has taken over as the interim CEO of the beer giant, with immediate effect following the hospitalization of Sir Ivan Menezes.

Crew was due to take on the role of CEO at the end of its financial year this month with Menezes scheduled to retire from the board on 30 June.

Over the weekend, the firm learned that following treatment for a medical condition, Menezes’ recovery suffered a ‘significant setback due to complications’, which led to emergency surgery on a stomach ulcer.

In a statement, Diageo said: “Sir Ivan Menezes is currently in hospital receiving treatment for medical conditions including a stomach ulcer. Over the weekend, we learned that Ivan’s recovery suffered a significant setback due to complications, which followed emergency surgery on the ulcer.

“As a result of these developments, the Board of Directors has appointed Debra Crew Interim Chief Executive Officer with immediate effect, ahead of her appointment as Chief Executive Officer and join the Board as an executive director on 1 July 2023. As previously announced, Ivan will retire from the Board on 30 June 2023.

“Our thoughts are with our much-loved colleague, Ivan, and his family. Out of respect for Ivan and his family’s privacy, we will not be commenting further at this time.”

Menezes joined Diageo in 1997 following the merger of Guinness and Grand Metropolitan and has since held roles including chief operating officer; president, of Diageo North America; chairman, of Diageo Asia Pacific; and chairman, of Diageo Latin America and Caribbean.

He had led the company as CEO for a decade, receiving praise for his service to the company. In January this year, Menezes received a knighthood for services for business and equality on the King’s 2023 New Year Honours List.

According to market analysts, since Menezes started leading Diageo in 2013, the company’s shareholders have enjoyed a handsome 127% return on their investment compared to the FTSE100’s dismal 17%, and today Diageo is responsible for £1 in every £10 of the UK’s food and drink exports.

Meanwhile, Debra, who originally joined the Diageo board as a non-executive director in April 2019, has been president of Diageo North America and global supply since July 2020.

She is said to have led Diageo’s largest market to 14% organic net sales growth in fiscal 2022, following on from 20% organic net sales growth in the year prior.

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