Diageo Appoints John Manzoni As New Chair

By Reuters
Diageo Appoints John Manzoni As New Chair

Diageo named former British senior civil servant John Manzoni on Tuesday as its next chair, replacing Javier Ferran who will retire in February 2025.

The biggest Western spirits maker said in a statement that it began the search for a new chair in the summer of 2023, shortly before a November profit warning that dented confidence with some investors.


Manzoni joined the Diageo board in 2020, after leading the UK Civil Service as chief executive from 2014. He is currently chair of energy business SSE plc and previously spent 11 years as a non-executive director of African beer brewer SABMiller, which was taken over by Anheuser-Busch InBev in 2016.

Susan Kilsby, Diageo's senior independent director who led the appointment process, said Manzoni had been appointed following an extensive search process.

"John has an outstanding track record of leadership," she said, adding his experience will be instrumental as Diageo continues to grow.



Manzoni is also currently a non-executive director of engineering and technology business KBR Inc. and chair of the board of the Atomic Weapons Establishment, a UK defence ministry facility.

Previously, he led global oil and gas firms including Canada's Talisman Energy as president and chief executive from 2007-2012 and as a senior executive or board member at BP.

Current chair Ferran, who has held the role since 2017, will retire from the board in 2025.

Latin America

Diageo CEO Debra Crew said Ferran had been an "invaluable source of strategic advice and counsel" for her and the wider leadership team, adding she looked forward to working with Manzoni.

Crew took the helm in June last year following the death of her predecessor Ivan Menezes. Her first few months have been marred by a big fall in Latin American sales and concerns among some investors about how the issue was handled, though fears are easing.


Transition Period

Trevor Stirling, analyst at Bernstein, said the long transition period means Ferran, a former CEO of rival spirits maker Bacardi, can help put Diageo back on a more even keel before handing over to Manzoni.

"Diageo will miss Javier's in-depth industry knowledge," Stirling said.