Phil Humphreys to depart Diageo for major Coca-Cola role

UK. Diageo Global Travel & Middle East Managing Director Phil Humphreys is to leave Diageo to pursue a senior role with Coca-Cola SABCO, based in Dubai, it was announced today. His exact departure date is not yet confirmed but will not be before the end of July, the company stated.

Humphreys joined Diageo in 2005 from Nestlé, first as Global Sales & Capability Director and then as Commercial Director for Diageo Europe. In July 2008 he became Managing Director of Diageo Global Travel and Middle East (GTME).

Diageo President International Region Stuart Fletcher said: “It is with genuine regret that I am announcing today the departure of Phil Humphreys. Since coming to International as MD of GTME in July 2008 Phil has led the business with real passion through testing times in 2009 and, more recently, through a 2010 that has been characterised by very strong performance.”

Phil Humphreys (second from left) was a passionate advocate of ‘Trinity’ partnerships, for example here at Singapore Changi Airport: with (from left) Craig McKenna, DFS; Formula 1 racing star Heikki Kovalainen; Changi Airport Group Executive Vice President, Corporate Tan Lye Teck; Jay Woo, Diageo GTME; and John Hoover, DFS

“Phil leaves the business in excellent shape. Its role and strategy are clear, its ambitions are massively energising and, through its commitment to building amazing relationships with retail customers, airport authorities and other partners, it has started to transform travel retail.

“Phil has also been an important contributor to my International Exec team and to the leadership of Diageo International. Everyone who has worked with Phil will miss his energy, his ability to connect with people and his unswerving commitment to creating new possibilities,” Fletcher added.

“I have already started the search for an outstanding leader who can take GTME on to even greater things and will make an announcement as soon as I am able.

“Everyone at Diageo wishes Phil and Jo every happiness with their new life with Coca Cola in Dubai.”

COMMENT: Like the fireworks at the Cannes show, Phil Humphreys’ tenure of the top travel retail job at Diageo was short-lived but spectacular, writes Martin Moodie.

He arrived on the scene in 2008 almost bursting with enthusiasm and never lost his boyish zest for making things happen. His well-documented pledge to double the size of travel retail’s liquor category in five years will now not be able to be judged but certainly in two years Humphreys moved the liquor category centre stage and was responsible for some of the channel’s most high-profile launches and promotions.

Humphreys was a particularly passionate advocate of the Trinity concept of greater understanding and partnership between industry stakeholders (in many ways he rekindled its stuttering momentum at the Trinity Forum in 2009) and was willing, always, to put his money where his mouth was in terms of significant investment.

His enthusiasm was beginning to prove particularly effective at airport company level and it is to be hoped that his successor will carry on in the same vein.

Humphreys told The Moodie Report that he made the decision to leave the company “with heavy heart”. For his passion and willingness to think and act outside the box, many in the industry will share that emotion.

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