Fever-Tree names ex-SABMiller executive as next chairman with Bill Ronald set to step down in May
- Domenic De Lorenzo will succeed Bill Ronald as chairman from next May
- De Lorenzo helped oversee SABMiller’s £79bn takeover by ABInBev in 2016
- Fever-Tree has lowered profit forecasts twice in 2022 amidst cost increases
The former finance boss of SABMiller Domenic De Lorenzo has been appointed the next chair of Fever-Tree.
De Lorenzo has served as a non-executive board member of the tonic water producer since 2018 but will now succeed Bill Ronald as chairman at the conclusion of the firm’s annual general meeting next May.
He spent more than two decades at SABMiller, which was once the world’s second-largest brewer with brands including Castle Lager, Pilsner Urquell and Fosters.
Incoming: Domenic De Lorenzo will succeed Bill Ronald as Fever-Tree chairman at the conclusion of the drinks company’s annual general meeting next May
He rose to be its chief financial officer in July 2015, where he remained until its takeover by Anheuser-Busch InBev (AbInBev), famous for owning Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois.
The £79billion deal was the biggest-ever acquisition of a London-listed British group and created an enlarged company now responsible for nearly one-third of all global beer sales.
Ronald said his replacement ‘brings exceptional leadership and commercial skills, with a clear focus on performance and a strong strategy skill set.
‘Having worked with him in a board capacity since 2018, I can attest to his strength of judgement and proven governance reputation and focus, as well as his personal leadership skills.’
Ronald joined the company when it was listed on the London Stock Exchange in November 2014, having previously spent a long career at Mars Incorporated and later becoming the chief executive of convenience food producer Uniq.
Fever-Tree shares skyrocketed by over 1,800 per cent in the four years after they debuted on the junior AIM market.
Their value eventually slid back as the gin boom slowed down, glass bottle prices rose, and poor weather and weaker consumer confidence affected the UK.
The Covid-19 pandemic provided even greater headwinds for the London-based firm’s ‘on-trade’ sales, given that pubs, bars and restaurants were forced to remain shut for much of the time.
However, the lost trade was mitigated to a large extent by a surge in customers consuming Fever-Tree’s premium long-mixed drinks at home.
Orders have continued to grow over the past two years, especially in the United States, where the group surpassed Schweppes to be the country’s leading tonic water brand.
But the business has downgraded profit forecasts twice in 2022 due to supply chain problems causing a rise in glass and shipping costs, as well as labour shortages and the cost-of-living crisis.
It now expects underlying earnings of between £37.5million to £45million for the full year, compared to £63million the previous year.
Fevertree Drinks shares were 2.4 per cent down at £10.61 during the late afternoon on Monday, meaning they have lost almost 60 per cent of their value in the last two years.
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