Bacardi Limited on Friday named the former vice chairman of Procter & Gamble’s Global Beauty & Grooming division as the new president and chief executive of the global liquor business.
Edward Shirley, 55, who retired from P&G last July, will start his job on Monday based at Bacardi headquarters in Bermuda. Shirley replaces Seamus McBride, 57, who has is retiring after serving as Bacardi’s president and CEO since September 2008.
The transition is timed to coincide with the end of Bacardi’s fiscal year on March 31. Shirley will also serve as a member of the board of directors of Bacardi Ltd, whose U.S. subsidiary is based in Coral Gables.
“We’re not the largest in the industry, but we need to be sure we are the best,” Shirley said in a phone interview. “Bacardi has an iconic stable of brands. I’m looking to drive them around the globe. We need to make sure we maximize the opportunities to get our core business growing.”
Shirley joined P&G in 2005 through the acquisition of Gillette, where he had worked for 27 years. As head of P&G’s beauty and grooming unit, Shirley led a portfolio that generated $38 billion in sales and $6 billion in profits. He oversaw a diverse portfolio of mass consumer brands including Gillette, Braun, Old Spice, Oral-B, Crest, CoverGirl and Pantene, as well as luxury names like Hugo Boss and Gucci fragrances, Dolce & Gabbana fragrances and makeup.
Under Shirley’s leadership, the beauty division was reorganized to better target consumer needs and increase the presence of high-growth, high-margin brands. This reorganization helped turn around a declining business unit that went on to deliver seven consecutive quarters of sales growth.
During his career, Shirley also led Gillette Europe in London, Braun in Germany and Oral-B North America.
“We are fortunate to have Ed as our new CEO. He brings to Bacardi a powerful combination of strong business experience, proven results and inspirational leadership,” Facundo L. Bacardi, chairman of Bacardi Limited, said in a statement. “We look forward to benefiting from his deep and broad experiences in brand-building, sales, and general management across a variety of roles and businesses throughout the world.”
Shirley arrives at Bacardi as the company is celebrating its 150th anniversary. The company that Don Facundo Bacardi founded in 1862 in Santiago de Cuba is now the third-largest spirits company in the world, with more than 200 brands. In the last two decades, Bacardi has quadrupled in size adding brands like Grey Goose vodka, Bombay Sapphire gin and Dewar’s Scotch whisky.
After a slowdown during the recession, Bacardi’s business is once again back in the growth mode. But Shirley will face challenges continuing to grow the brand in emerging markets and picking up the pace of growth in the U.S. through product and marketing innovation.
“You’ve got to excite the consumer,” Shirley said. “Even in a difficult environment, look at what Apple does just by bringing innovation that’s exciting to the consumer. We need to be engaging the consumer in a meaningful and relevant message that gets the consumer talking about the brand.”
While economic challenges persist for all consumer brands in North America and Western Europe, Shirley hopes that Bacardi can offset that through continued growth in emerging markets like Asia and Brazil, while building on the brand’s success in Russia.
Although he is new to the spirits industry, Shirley believes he can capitalize on his existing relationships with major international retailers and knowledge of consumer spending habits.
“The principles of winning are very transferable,” he said. “Plus, I’m a quick study.”