Global spirits company Bacardi – best known for its white rum – is reshuffling some of its leadership roles and the changes will include the appointment of the first woman to head the company’s travel retail business as global chief executive.
Leila Stansfield. currently Bacardi’s UK & Ireland sales director, will take up the new role from January 2023. The incumbent, London-based Vinay Golikeri, moves from travel retail to take up the role of managing director for India & Neighbors after more than a decade with the channel Earth. Golikeri replaces Sanjit Singh Randhawa, who will move to Dubai to become director of external relations for Asia, Middle East and Africa and global travel retail.
India and the United States are the two largest global markets for whiskey – a major category for Bacardi. In India, spirits will see volume growth of 23% between 2021 and 2026, according to beverage analyst IWSR.
Educated at the University of Cambridge, Stansfield has previous – albeit short-lived – experience in the travel retail channel, holding senior roles such as finance director (from 2015 to 2016) and marketing director (from 2016 to 2017). Perhaps more importantly, she held leadership positions in strategy development and reported directly to the CEO of Bermuda-based Bacardi, where she worked for 12 years.
Stansfield’s broader experience in forward strategic planning is likely to be relevant to the retail travel channel, as it emerges from a very deep trough with inevitable upheaval and some consolidation. For example, airport retailer Dufry is teaming up with Autogrill and spirits brands are trying to capture the attention of travelers now that post-Covid passenger numbers are growing rapidly. Stansfield said it will provide “win-win strategies for growth with retail partners” once it returns to travel retail next year.
Reflection of wine and spirits
After two years of decline, the spirits business in travel retail has seen strong growth this year for Bacardi rivals such as Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Brown-Forman.
. Bacardi, the world’s largest private spirits company, remains tight-lipped about its financial results but has stepped up its airport promotions this year and will continue to do so in the coming months, in the crucial Christmas period.
For example, for three months from July to September, Bacardi ran a pop-up whiskey emporium at Istanbul Airport in collaboration with Gebr. Heinemann and joint venture partner Unifree Duty Free. The venue showcased brands such as Dewar’s and single malts Aberfeldy, Craigellachie, Glen Deveron and Royal Brackla, including steam infusion vessels and a wax dipping service.
“A Time of Transformational Opportunity”
Commenting on the executive orders, Vijay Subramaniam, Bacardi Regional President for Asia, Middle East and Africa and Global Travel Retail, said: “Vinay has played a key role in the development of our Global Travel Retail. The last few years have been particularly difficult for the channel and Vinay has successfully navigated the challenges of the pandemic. Leila brings valuable business skills from across our business. This is a time of transformational opportunity for global travel retail… and she will maximize strategic branding and business opportunities.”
Bacardi, the most awarded brand of rum it also has a history of strength in premium gin with Bombay Sapphire
the number one gin in travel retail in 2021 (by value), and in super premium vodka with the Gray Goose brand, which grew by 68% last year (source: IWSR).