Irish Distillers Appoints Conor McQuaid As CEO

By Publications Checkout
Irish Distillers Appoints Conor McQuaid As CEO

Jameson Irish Whiskey producers Irish Distillers has announced the appointment of Conor McQuaid as its new CEO and chairman, effective 1 July 2018.

McQuaid will succeed the current chairman and CEO Jean-Christophe Coutures, who is will take over as CEO of Pernod Ricard’s Chivas Brothers Scotch whisky portfolio.

The executive reshuffling was announced as part of the Irish Distillers recording a 4 million cases milestone of Jameson Irish whiskey in the first half of the year, which saw sales grow 12% and volume increase by 11%.

The company expanded to double and triple digit growth in 80 markets during the same period.

“As these results demonstrate, the great growth story of Irish whiskey continues, and I am very proud to have played my part in the continued success story that is Irish whiskey,” Coutures said.


“I know that Conor will be a great ambassador for Irish whiskey on the world stage and I am honoured to be handing over the reins of such an incredible organisation at this important moment for our industry."

Previous Experience

McQuaid currently serves as EVP global business development at the Pernod Ricard. He joined Irish Distillers as regional manager for Southern Europe in 1998, and has worked across the Pernod Ricard conglomerate for almost 20 years.

Coutures' tenure as chairman and CEO of Irish Distillers began on 1 July 2016.

He said that the growth of the spirits brand had been fuelled mainly by markets in the US, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. However, Asian and Latin American markets recorded strong growth also, Coutures said.

“Consumers, particularly millennials, are showing signs of appreciating higher end and super premium products and at Irish Distillers we are well placed to meet this trend,” he said.


“Growth of our prestige range led by Redbreast and Midleton Very Rare, reflects the growing consumer appetite for premium Irish whiskeys, and the resurgence of the time-honoured single pot still Irish whiskey.”

Domestic Challenges

The company faced a challenging environment in the ROI market with volume growth outpacing value growth, at +3.7% and +3.3%, respectively.

However, the distiller’s premium spirits brands have recorded strong net sales growth during H1: Jameson (+ 5%), Powers (+11%), Prestige Irish whiskeys (+30%), premium vodka (+5%) and premium gin (+29%).

Coutures pointed to the importance of the whiskey tourism industry: “Irish whiskey tourism is another important part of the Irish whiskey story. In 2017 the number of tourists travelling to Ireland to visit Irish whiskey distillery centres increased by 11%. The reopening of Jameson Distillery Bow St. – the original home of Jameson – in March 2017, undoubtedly played a role in this growth.”

He added that the tourism strategy will aim to treble the number of Irish whiskey tourists visiting Ireland every year to 1.9 million by 2025.


New Regulation

“It is important to note the global success of Irish whiskey is in danger of being undermined by developments in Ireland, most notably the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill,” he said.

The new Bill was approved by the Government on 8 December 2017 and aims to reduce alcohol consumption to 9.1 litres per person per annum by 2020 and to reduce harms associated with drinking.

The legislation includes five main provisions: minimum unit pricing; health labelling of alcohol products; the regulation of advertising and sponsorship of alcohol products; structural separation of alcohol products in mixed trading outlets; and the regulation of the sale and supply of alcohol in certain circumstances, according to the Department of Health.

“The unintended negative consequences from the advertising measures being proposed will undermine the industry’s ability to trial innovative new products in Ireland and prove that they are export ready,” Coutures continued.

“The labelling requirements will act as a severe barrier to entry for new companies and will also cause serious reputational damage to Ireland’s premium drinks products. The measures in the bill run the risk of needlessly endangering one of Ireland’s biggest export successes and damaging future innovation, job growth and economic contributions.”


© 2018  - Checkout Magazine by Kevin Duggan


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