USA/Canada: Molson Coors exchanges CEO amid sliding sales

Amid sliding sales and revenue, 56-year old Mark Hunter has announced to retire as President and CEO of Molson Coors effective September 27, a function he has performed in the last four years.

“After a 36-year career with the last 30 years in the beer business Mark Hunter indicated his desire to retire from his position as Molson Coors President and CEO in order to spend more time with his wife Fiona and two children,” said Andrew Molson, chairman of the Molson Coors Board in a press statement today. “Leadership changes are planned for at the Board level and this is part of our succession planning process at work,” the statement goes on.

"As we now shift emphasis to greater focus on top line growth while remaining financially disciplined, it's an appropriate time for me to pass the baton on to Gavin to lead the company through our next chapter of continuing to energize, premiumize and modernize our portfolio and to move beyond beer with disruptive thinking," Hunter said in this morning's earnings call.

Hunter began his career in beer in 1989 when he joined Bass Brewers and has been with Molson Coors for the last 17 years since its acquisition of the UK business in 2002. During his time, he has played a key role in the company’s recent history, including the acquisition of the Carling business in the UK in 2002, the merger of Molson and Coors in 2005, the formation of its US joint venture, MillerCoors, in 2008, the acquisition of the Central and Eastern European business in 2012, the integration of MillerCoors into Molson Coors and the acquisition of the Miller international business in 2016.

“We respect Mark’s wishes and thank him for the significant impact he has made at our company. He’s led the company through a period of tremendous transformational change and has successfully helped more than double the size of our company,” Andrew Molson was quoted as saying.

Hunter will be succeeded by Gavin Hattersley, who is the same age as Hunter. Hattersley has served as President and Chief Executive Officer of MillerCoors, the US business unit, since September 2015. He came to Miller Brewing Company from SAB Limited of Johannesburg, South Africa, and has held in the last 20 years various positions mainly in the financial sector within the group, including three years from 2012 to 2015 as Global Chief Financial Officer of Molson Coors

Today Molson Coors also published its second-quarter results, in which it recorded a decrease in worldwide brand volume of 5.6% and financial volume of 7%. Global priority brand volume also decreased 4.6% and underlying cost per hectoliter increased 6% on a constant currency basis. Marketing, general and administrative expenses increased 5.7%. As a result, underlying EBITDA decreased 12.8% on a constant currency basis. The year-to-date underlying free cash flow was USD 560.7 million, 15% below the prior year driven by lower underlying EBITDA and higher cash tax payments, partially offset by lower capital expenditures and lower cash interest payments.

In the U.S. overall industry demand was softer year-on-year, and net sales revenue decreased 2.9% driven by 6.7% decline in sales to wholesalers excluding contract brewing, partially offset by net price increases.

In Europe, net sales revenue decreased 2.4% on a constant currency basis, due to 6.5% decline in brand volume, partially offset by strong price increases, and favorable mix.

In Canada, net sales revenue decreased 2.9% on a constant currency basis, driven primarily by 5.1% decline in brand volume primarily due to softness in industry volume, partially offset by positive pricing.

In the international business, net sales revenue decreased 12.1% on a constant currency basis, driven by an 11.9% decline in brand volume along with the shift to local production in Mexico.

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