Scottish & Newcastle set for more deals as Stewart becomes executive chairman

Scottish & Newcastle, the UK's second-biggest brewer, yesterday announced a boardroom shake-up that is expected to signal a new wave of corporate activity following the group's £1.7bn deal to take control of French-based Danone's Kronenbourg beer business.

Scottish & Newcastle, the UK's second-biggest brewer, yesterday announced a boardroom shake-up that is expected to signal a new wave of corporate activity following the group's £1.7bn deal to take control of French-based Danone's Kronenbourg beer business.

The changes will see Brian Stewart, the current chief executive and deputy chairman, take over as chairman of the group to concentrate on "a number of opportunities for possible future developments".

Guy Dickson, now head of the group's beer business, will take over the day-to-day running of the company as managing director and Sir Alistair Grant will step down from the chairman's role as he intended to become deputy chairman. The post of chief executive will be abolished.

The company said: "These changes reflect the board's belief that the twin challenges of rapid industry consolidation and the need to integrate new businesses must both be pursued aggressively."

A spokeswoman for S&N added: "I think people expected some sort of reorganisation in the light of the Kronenbourg deal and the scale of our international ambitions beyond that." She said Mr Stewart would maintain the strategic impetus of the group and develop the organisational structure for an international business.

One analyst described the reshuffle as "sensible". He said it reflected the company's decision to focus on its brewing interests while disposing of its non-core Center Parcs and Pontin's holiday division. Another analyst said: "You can see consolidation in the brewing industry happening at a considerable pace. That Stewart is being given a more strategic role is a further signal that the company will be focusing on that."

S&N kicked off awave of consolidation in March when it unveiled the Kronenbourg deal. Since then, the UK market has been shaken up by the entry of Interbrew, a private Belgian company which paid £2.3bn and £400m to acquire the Bass and Whitbread beer units, toppling S&N from its former status as the country's biggest brewer.

Earlier this month, the group, which makes John Smith's, Foster's and Scottish Courage, said pre-tax, pre-exceptional profits for the year to 30 April rose 6 per cent to £415m, on sales up 8 per cent at £3.6bn. Shares in the company closed up 1p at 511p.

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