Compass Says Outgoing Diageo CEO Paul Walsh to Become Chairman

Compass Group Plc, the world’s biggest catering company, said Paul Walsh, the outgoing chief executive officer of Diageo Plc, will become chairman next year.

Walsh will become a non-executive director of the company from Jan. 1, 2014, Compass said today in a statement, and take up the role of non-executive chairman at the end of the Chertsey, England-based company’s annual general meeting on Feb. 6. He replaces Roy Gardner, who announced his resignation earlier this year.

Walsh has led Diageo since 2000, helping build the maker of Smirnoff vodka and Johnnie Walker whisky into the world’s biggest distiller. He will step down as CEO on July 1, leave the board in September, and retire from the London-based drinkmaker on June 30, 2014, it said in May.

Ian Robinson, a Compass senior independent director, welcomed Walsh to the board, saying that “his experience leading one of the U.K.’s largest international companies through a period of significant global expansion makes him an excellent choice.”

In March, Compass reported first-half revenue growth of 5 percent as it offset declines in Europe and Japan with gains in North America and emerging markets. CEO Richard Cousins is driving profitability by cutting costs and restructuring its business in southern Europe to offset stagnant economic conditions driven by government austerity plans.

Walsh said he’s looking forward “to working with Richard Cousins and my new colleagues on the board, and to making a significant contribution to the business.”

Walsh is currently also a non-executive director of FedEx Corp., Unilever, and Avanti Communications Group Plc.

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