ARCHIVETWE boss Michael Clarke resigns

TWE boss Michael Clarke resigns

Australian wine giant Treasury Wine Estate (TWE) confirms that its chief executive officer (CEO) Michael Clarke will step down in 2021, although he is expected to remain in an advisory role until the end of this year following his departure.

AUSTRALIA (Melbourne) – As part of succession planning, Chief Operating Officer (COO) Tim Ford will step into Clarke’s shoes as CEO in the first quarter of 2021, while Clarke, who is retiring to the UK to spend more time with his family, will remain an advisor to provide strategic support on key initiatives, including potential merger and acquisition opportunities.

Chairman Paul Rayner told the press, “There is no question that Clarke’s leadership has driven the exceptional transformation and outstanding financial returns that TWE has achieved over the past five and a half years. The structural changes and initiatives implemented by Michael and his team have made TWE a much stronger company than when he joined. He has positioned our company very well to continue to deliver sustainable, margin enhancing growth in the future. The Board and myself thank Clarke for his willpower and exceptional contribution, and for his continued support during the transition period.”

Clarke is credited with turning the business around positively and very satisfactorily after joining Treasury in March 2014 from Kraft Foods Europe following the departure of David Dearie. He brought the company back to profitability in 2015 after a “reset year” when he laid off five per cent of the workforce to invest in marketing and promotion of the brands with the freed-up cash, wrote down a total of about €210 million in assets before restructuring and divested less profitable parts of the portfolio, including its Californian vineyards and 12 wine brands that were not part of the core business. Under Clarke’s leadership, the company bought the Percy Fox and Chateaux & Estate wine portfolios from Diageo and launched a French wine portfolio aimed at growth in Asia.

The new man at the top, Tim Ford, joined TWE from National Foods in 2011 and from then on headed the company’s logistics. He took overall responsibility for the service, quality and cost of distribution of more than 30 million cases of wine. His roles within the group included two years as senior vice president of supply (USA), director of global supply from February 2016, to which was added oversight of TWE’s Europe, Southeast Asia, Middle East and Africa regions, before being appointed deputy COO in July 2018 and COO in January 2019, after replacing Robert Foye, who had to leave abruptly due to a “breach of TWE’s internal policies”.

Rayner is quoted in the media as saying that Ford’s depth and breadth in terms of his experience within the company is proven and that he is confident Ford will be a strong leader to lead TWE into its next exciting phase. “We have an excellent executive leadership team. In addition, the company’s five-year strategic plans show that the best years are still ahead of us. I look forward to seeing the positive momentum continue in the company,” said Rayner.

TWE continues on the road to success

In 2019, TWE reported profit after tax up 16 per cent to €263.2 million in the year to June 2019, driven by premiumisation and strength in the Asian market, which alone saw growth of 43 per cent to €184.2 million. TWE’s Americas, Australia and New Zealand markets also recorded double-digit growth, while Europe saw a more muted increase of four per cent to just under €42 million. The group plans to invest around 175.2 million euros in its Wolf Blass winery, located in Nuriootpa in the Barossa Valley about 80 km northeast of Adelaide, in 2021.

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