New CEO at Pivotal Time For Lion

Lion has appointed Diageo executive Sam Fischer as its new chief executive at a “pivotal time” for the group.

Fischer will join the brewing group from Diageo, where he is President Asia Pacific and global travel, and a member of the Global Diageo executive committee.

Prior to Diageo, he spent 15 years with Colgate-Palmolive starting in Australia and moving on to hold senior commercial roles working across several markets in Europe and Asia. He is also currently a non-executive director with the Burberry Group.

“It is a privilege to be joining Lion – a company with a proud 180-year history in Australia and New Zealand, incredible stable of locally loved brands and a growing craft beer business in the United States,” Fischer expressed.

He will take the helm at Lion in July this year, when current chief executive Stuart Irvine will step down after nine years leading the Japanese-owned but Kiwi-founded beverage company.

Irvine had been taking the company, which is owned by beverage giant Kirin, through a transformation program to refocus Lion on its core adult beverages businesses, establish a flexible and agile technology platform and diversify into craft beer and spirits adjacencies as a foundation for new growth.

This included the selloff of its Dairy & Drinks division to Bega Cheese for A$560m, while in New Zealand it is divesting its Liquor King alcohol retail business and has closed its foodservice distribution division.

Lion chair Sir Rod Eddington said Fischer would join the group at a pivotal time.

“Sam brings 30 years of global leadership experience, deep expertise in alcohol beverages and FMCG businesses and a strong track record in driving business growth,” he said.

“Sam joins Lion at a pivotal time, as our industry continues to navigate the impacts of the pandemic and Lion delivers a new mid-term plan to return to sustainable growth. His drive for performance and proven ability to lead with purpose and conviction will be invaluable as Lion enters this next chapter.”