- Diageo has named Sally Grimes as the chief executive officer of its North American business. Grimes previously held several executive roles at Tyson Foods, including leading its prepared foods division, for over five years and served as CEO at Clif Bar from 2020 to March of this year.
- The alcohol giant touted two of Grimes’ accomplishments as key examples of her business acuity: her handling of a $10 billion segment for Tyson and her development of a growth plan for Clif Bar that led to its nearly $3 billion sale to snacking giant Mondelēz International last year.
- The Guinness maker is aiming to capitalize on the growing momentum for its drinks in the U.S. by building out its premium offerings, having grown its net sales in the country by 41% since 2019, the company said.
Diageo’s decision to hire a food industry veteran to lead its American operations signals a new approach from the U.K.-based company to further grow its presence and portfolio in the states, its largest market.
Grimes’ experience in the food and beverage sector extends beyond executive roles. She has also served on the board of several CPG companies, including Beyond Meat, Continental Grain Company and Silver Oak Winery.
Diageo also appointed North American president Claudia Schubert, a company veteran of over two decades, to also serve as chief operating officer. The spirits giant said the new COO led its U.S. business through the difficulty of the pandemic and has managed the rise of its tequila business.
The appointments of two women to key executive roles follows the Guinness maker’s appointment of former PepsiCo, Kraft and Nestlé veteran Debra Crew as its global CEO last year, the first woman to take the reins of the business.
“Sally brings a significant depth of experience in the consumer goods sector in North America and has a proven ability to drive substantial growth in businesses,” Crew said. “I’m confident that with these appointments, we are set up to win at pace in North America.”
Previously in 2020, former global CEO Ivan Menezes announced a strategy for the next decade to expand its premium offerings in the liquor space through M&A. The business has so far made progress on this goal. Last year, it acquired Phillippines-based rum brand Don Papa for over $280 million and Australian premium coffee liqueur Mr Black for an undisclosed amount.
Diageo’s U.S. strategy in recent years has involved expanding its offerings to fit a variety of drinking occasions.
This year, the company partnered with Vita Coco to launch a line of ready-to-drink cocktails made with Captain Morgan rum in three flavors. In 2022, Diageo acquired women-owned flavored tequila brand 21Seeds.