Paul Walsh confirmed his move to swap booze for food today, with the outgoing Diageo boss becoming catering giant Compass Group’s new chairman. Mr Walsh, who will be replaced at Diageo by Ivan Menezes in July after more than 12 years at the helm of the maker of Guinness and Tanqueray gin, will join Compass as a non-executive director next January and will become chairman on 6 February.
Mr Walsh will replace Sir Roy Gardner, who is retiring from the £15bn business which serves up four billion meals a year, including strawberries and cream to tennis fans at Wimbledon next week.
Sir Ian Robinson, senior independent director of Compass, said Mr Walsh’s “experience leading one of the UK’s largest international companies through a period of significant global expansion makes him an excellent choice, and we look forward to his valuable contribution to the business.”
Mr Walsh is also on the board of Unilever and FedEx.
Mr Walsh will face a serious drop in his salary after moving roles: at Diageo he was one of the best-paid FTSE 100 chief executives, taking home £11.2m last year. But as Compass chairman, Sir Roy was last year paid £469,000.
Mr Walsh’s tenure at Diageo was only shorter than two other FTSE 100 bosses: Aiden Heavey of Tullow Oil and Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP, who founded their firms in 1985 and 1986 respectively.