17th May 2021 By Paul Yandall | email@example.com | @foodtickernz
Stuart Irvine is stepping down as chief executive of Lion after more than eight years at the helm of the Japanese-owned but Kiwi-founded beverage company.
Sydney-based Irvine’s departure from the group, which is owned by Japanese giant Kirin, comes after it completed the sale of its Lion Dairy & Drinks business to Bega Cheese for A$560m early this year.
“After eight years, now is the right time for me to hand the baton to a new leader,” Irvine said on Friday.
“I’m proud of the Lion I will leave behind – a focused business well placed for growth at home and abroad. It is a business focused on the consumer, with the foundation of new data and technology capability and purpose at the heart of its decision-making.”
Lion said that Irvine made the decision to leave after the “successful delivery of a transformation program to refocus Lion on its core adult beverages businesses, establish a flexible and agile technology platform and diversify into craft beer and spirits adjacencies as a foundation for new growth”.
It added that the company was entering a new mid-term planning cycle and Irvine believed now was the “right time to start the process for a transition to a new leader who will deliver the company’s strategy”.
The move comes after a recent restructure of the New Zealand business. Lion NZ managing director Rory Glass, who had been in the role for a decade, left the company in February following a restructure which aimed to create a more closely aligned trans-Tasman business.
The shake-up saw the role of managing director in New Zealand change to that of a country director, which was filled by former commercial director Craig Baldie.
According to Lion chairman Sir Rod Eddington, the departing Irvine led the company through a time of “unprecedented change” across the food and beverage sectors.
“During Stuart’s tenure, Lion has become a re-focused adult beverages business and expanded its footprint in craft beer and spirits in both Australia and overseas,” he said.
“Lion’s international business is already delivering encouraging growth with recent results from the United States especially positive given the challenges of Covid-19.”
He added that Irvine’s commitment to sustainable business saw Lion become Australasia’s first large scale carbon neutral brewer, identify and close its gender pay gap and drive gender diversity by setting ambitious all-of-company gender targets and putting in place concrete strategies to achieve them.
The Lion board had started a global executive search for his replacement, with “transition timing to be determined towards the end of the year”. Irvine would continue to lead the business until his successor was in post.
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