- Beam Suntory said Greg Hughes, the company’s chief growth and brands officer, will take over as CEO from current head Albert Baladi on October 1, the alcohol maker said in a statement. Baladi will serve as CEO advisor after stepping down for the rest of 2023 and will be engaged as a senior advisor in 2024.
- Hughes has more than three decades of experience in consumer goods across marketing, commercial and management roles. He joined Beam Suntory, a unit of Japan’s Suntory Holdings, in 2015, leading the company’s largest market as president for North America for four years and before that as general manager of North America.
- Under Baladi, who has been CEO since 2019, Beam Suntory’s annual sales have grown at high single digits to more than $5 billion and the spirits maker has expanded its presence in premium brands, which now make up the majority of its sales.
Beam Suntory oversees a portfolio of well-known brands, including Jim Beam, Maker's Mark and Knob Creek.
Despite having these popular and well-established offerings, Baladi moved aggressively to help the New York-based company add to its presence in alcohol through a series of acquisitions and partnerships. These transactions enabled Beam Suntory to better position itself to respond to growing consumer demand for more portable and premium offerings.
Since Baladi took over, the company has acquired premium ready-to-drink cocktail brand On The Rocks; inked a distribution deal for Mezcal Amarás, a premium and sustainability-focused mezcal brand; and partnered with Boston Beer to launch products including Twisted Tea Sweet Tea Whiskey, Sauza Agave Cocktails and Truly Flavored Vodka.
Hughes will be tasked with furthering this strategy. Hughes is no stranger to the CPG space, with more than 30 years of experience in various roles.
Prior to Beam Suntory, he served in positions with increasing responsibility at Procter & Gamble, Bel Brands USA and Kraft Foods. These roles, coupled with just under a decade at Beam Suntory, should enable him to immediately come into the CEO post with a deep understanding of current trends and how consumer demands are changing.
In the case of Beam Suntory, Hughes’ role leading its North American operations and overseeing the company’s growth strategy, has given him invaluable insight into the business and where the New York-based firm is looking to go next. It also should allow him to better navigate a host of challenges impacting even the most seasoned executive, such as inflation and supply chain disruptions.
“Greg is ideally suited to succeed Albert as CEO and lead the company’s next era of growth, building on the strong track record under Albert’s leadership,” Tak Niinami, president and CEO of Suntory Holdings, said in a statement. “Greg has an incredibly strong track record of performance anchored in strategic vision, exemplary brand building, and a people-first inclusive mindset.”
The food and beverage space as a whole has seen a noticeable number of long-time CEOs step down in recent months. McCormick & Co., Unilever, Hain Celestial and chocolate maker Barry Callebaut are just a few of the companies that have announced changes to their top post.