Diageo said on Wednesday that long-time boss Ivan Menezes has sadly passed away following a brief illness.
The announcement comes after the world's biggest spirits company on Monday said CEO-designate Debra Crew would assume the top role on an interim basis immediately as Menezes was under medical treatment.
British-American national Menezes, 63, who was born in the Indian city of Pune, joined Diageo after its formation through the merger of Guinness and Grand Metropolitan in 1997.
Menezes, who was set to retire at the end of this month, was in the hospital receiving treatment for conditions including a stomach ulcer, the company said in a statement on Monday.
Sales at Diageo, the maker of Johnnie Walker whiskey, Tanqueray gin, Captain Morgan and Baileys, surged under Menezes' leadership, and he steered the company through multiple brand acquisitions as well as a major sustainability overhaul.
Diageo Chairman's Tribute
In a statement on the Diageo website, Javier Ferrán, chairman, Diageo plc, commented, “This is an incredibly sad day. Ivan [Menezes] was undoubtedly one of the finest leaders of his generation.
"Ivan was there at the creation of Diageo and over 25 years, shaped Diageo to become one of the best performing, most trusted and respected consumer companies. I saw first-hand his steadfast commitment to our people and to creating a culture that enabled everyone to thrive. He invested his time and energy in people at every level of the company and saw potential that others may have overlooked. This is one of many reasons why he was beloved by our employees, past and present.
"Ivan’s energy and his commitment to diversity created a truly inclusive business and enabled Diageo to have a positive impact on the communities we serve. His passion for our brands was second-to-none and in his heart, he remained the Johnnie Walker marketer from his early days. The desire to build the world’s best brands never left him.
"We are truly privileged to have had the opportunity to work alongside such a thoughtful and passionate colleague and friend - a true gentleman. He has built an extraordinary legacy.
"Ivan leaves behind many friends and a beloved family, and our thoughts are particularly with his wife, Shibani and his two children, Nikhil and Rohini. On behalf of the Board, Executive Committee and all our employees, we extend our deepest sympathies to them.”
News by Reuters additional reporting and edited by Donna Ahern, Checkout. For more drinks stories click here. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.