Diageo boss to stick with Guinness

New chief executive Ivan Menezes doesn't rule out deals, but won't be off-loading the Irish stout. James Ashton reports

The new boss of Smirnoff-to-Baileys giant Diageo has thrown his weight behind Guinness, the famous Irish stout, which it is often said could be ejected from the world's best-stocked corporate drinks cabinet.

"That is not going to happen," said Ivan Menezes, who was announced as successor to long-serving chief executive Paul Walsh last week. "We define ourselves as a premium drinks business and Guinness is core within that."

Diageo's new Indian-born leader will concentrate on the organic growth of the £50bn business but doesn't rule out more deals. "A key requirement for me is keeping this company very agile. We have a strong balance sheet. We will look at acquisition opportunities. We look at everything."

Mr Walsh gained scale soon after he took over in 2000 by swallowing the Seagram drinks brands. More recently, he sealed deals in Turkey, India and Brazil to build momentum in emerging markets.

"There is good growth around the world," added Mr Menezes, whose favourite drink is Johnnie Walker black label with ice and soda.

"You have got 1.3 billion consumers coming in to the emerging middle classes in the next 10 years and 400 million coming into what we call luxury spending. We are setting ourselves up with good scale in these emerging markets, not just to grow the local brands but to grow the international brands."

Diageo has long been linked with a full takeover of champagne and cognac house Moët Hennessy but it must persuade French tycoon Bernard Arnault to sell his majority stake. Less likely is a revival of the deal to buy tequila brand Jose Cuevo after talks broke down last year.

"For all the deals we have done there are many more that we haven't done. There are two criteria: they need to be strategically in the sweet spot and they need to meet our economic criteria."

Mr Menezes, who was groomed for the top for several years by running the group's most profitable division in America, was instrumental in the investment in United Spirits, which gives Diageo access to India's legion of whisky drinkers.

Guinness has found the going tough in developed markets such as Britain and Ireland, but has become a top tipple in Africa. "The route to market we get with beer gives us an advantage in spirits," Mr Menezes explained. "Johnnie Walker, for example, has tripled in size in the last few years in Africa."

His ascent marks another success for the Indian Institute of Management, which has gained a reputation as a hothouse for business leaders. Ajay Banga, the chief executive of Mastercard, and PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi studied at branches of the business school.

"It was a tough school to get into – and to get out of," Mr Menezes said with a laugh.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence