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Diageo has announced Nik Jhangiani, the current CFO of Coke bottler Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, will become its CFO later in the year.

Jhangiani will join the Diageo board in autumn 2024 as current CFO Lavanya Chandrashekar will step down after three years in the role and six years with the company to return to the US.

Jhangiani is currently CFO at CCEP, the world’s largest Coca-Cola bottler with revenues of over €18bn, a role he has held since 2016.

He has more than 30 years of finance experience gained in roles in the UK, Europe, India, Africa and the US, including 20 years as CFO and two decades within the Coca-Cola system.

Chandrashekar joined Diageo in 2018 as CFO North America and was appointed overall CFO in July 2021.

Diageo said Lavanya had been key to the delivery of a 10.5% net sales value CAGR and has been instrumental in accelerating Diageo’s productivity agenda.

Under Lavanya’s leadership, the business is on track to exceed its $1.5bn three-year productivity savings target by the end of 2024, while creating value for shareholders by growing dividends and continuing its return of capital programme.

CEO Debra Crew said: “I am delighted that Nik will be joining us. He is a highly experienced CFO with a proven global track record of generating growth across multiple consumer businesses and industries. Nik’s experience and international mindset will make him a strong addition to our leadership team.

“I am grateful to Lavanya for her leadership over the last six years and her contribution as Diageo successfully expanded our business through a global pandemic and delivered major productivity savings. I want to thank Lavanya for being a trusted colleague and partner to me, both when we worked together in North America, and more recently as I took on the role of chief executive officer. On behalf of all Diageo colleagues, I wish her much future success as she returns to the US.

“With a strong focus on execution, we will continue to invest behind our world-leading brands to create value for shareholders and maintain our position as an industry leader in total beverage alcohol, which we strongly believe is an attractive sector with a long runway for growth.”

Jhangiani added: “I am delighted to be joining Diageo. It is an organisation I have long admired and one of the world’s most respected and trusted consumer businesses. I look forward to working with my new colleagues to drive value for Diageo’s shareholders, and to support the company’s strong track record of building and sustaining exceptional brands.”

CCEP said it expected to make an announcement about his successor in the “near future”, following a search with “strong candidates already identified”.

Damian Gammell, CCEP CEO, said: “I have been privileged to work closely with Nik for nearly a decade and I want to thank him for his outstanding contribution to CCEP and the wider Coca-Cola system. He has developed a strong team and we have great talent at CCEP who will continue to drive the fantastic business we have become today.”

Morning update

Asda has announced it has successfully refinanced more than £3.2bn of its debt.

The refinancing, which completed yesterday, included the biggest sterling high-yield bond this year and the second-largest sterling bond in the European leveraged finance market – only behind Asda’s original £2.25bn sterling bond tranche in 2021.

Asda said the transaction reflected strong demand from investors, while the package has pushed out the majority of its maturities into the next decade.

This investor demand enabled the supermarket to raise £1.75bn of senior secured notes and upsize by more than £200m on a £900m euro-denominated term loan to £1.1bn equivalent.

The maturities of the new loans are 2030 and 2031.

Asda also successfully extended the maturity of its revolving credit facility from August 2025 to October 2028 and was able to upsize this facility from £667m to £748m in connection with the wider refinancing.

The refinancing follows a recent upgrade in Asda’s corporate rating from Moody’s to B1 from B2, while Fitch Ratings raised its outlook on Asda’s long-term rating to positive from stable.

This came after Asda last week announced a stronger financial performance in its 2023 financial year, delivering a 24% increase in adjusted EBITDA after rent to £1.1bn and a 5.4% rise in like-for-like sales.

Michael Gleeson, Asda CFO, said: “We saw strong demand from investors after taking a thoughtful and prudent approach to refinancing our near-term debt well ahead of maturities – to further strengthen our balance sheet.

“The refinancing also reflects the wider strength of Asda as a diversified retail group with a strong grocery business at its core supported by a fantastic non-food offering in George and following recent investments, a major presence in the high-growth convenience and foodservice markets.”

Asda’s recent performance and increased cash generation has enabled it to reduce leverage from 3.9 times at the start of 2023 to 3.0 times at year end.

Elsewhere, in-store retail has made a slow start to spring as footfall continues to decline, according to the latest BRC-Sensormatic IQ footfall monitor.

In the four weeks to 27 April total UK footfall slumped by 7.2%, down from a 1.3% decline in March.

High street footfall fell back by 6.9%, retail park footfall by 6.2% and shopping centres by 7.2%.

All UK nations saw a fall in footfall year on year, with England down by 7.4%, Scotland by 3.6%, Wales by 8.1% and Northern Ireland by 11.1%.

Helen Dickinson, CEO of the British Retail Consortium, said: “While UK footfall was impacted by poor weather last month, this was artificially exacerbated by the comparison with 2023, when Easter was in April.

“All locations saw declines on the previous month, and nearly all major cities performed similarly poorly. However, there was good news in Edinburgh, where footfall was positive once again owing to the investment in local shopping locations in the Scottish capital over the past few years.

“It is now vital that elected councillors, mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners all play their part in designing the right planning, transport and neighbourhood safety policies to create thriving shopping destinations in communities across the country. These actions, locally and nationally, can contribute to boosting footfall and revitalising retail centres.”

Andy Sumpter, retail consultant EMEA for Sensormatic Solutions, commented: “After an early Easter fuelled improved footfall performance in March, there is little doubt lacklustre levels of store visits in April will have come as a blow for many retailers.

Whilst a drop in traffic may have been expected due to Easter falling early and the May bank holiday falling late, this will have been of little consolation. An exceptionally wet April also seems to have dampened many shoppers’ appetite for spending, especially in outlet and outdoor-focused retailers.

“However, with financial pressures starting to ease for some, and indications of growing consumer confidence being reported, we will have to look forward to May to see if that filters through to improved in-store shopping.”

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 is up another 0.3% to 8,195.4pts.

Risers include Cranswick, up 2% to 4,290p, THG, up 1.5% to 63.3p and Diageo, up 1.3% to 2,762.5p.

Fallers include Bakkavor, down 3.3% to 119p, Science in Sport, down 1.5% to 15.5p, and Greencore, down 0.8% to 131.8p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 closed yesterday up 0.6% at another record closing level of 8,172.2pts.

Kerry Group, which posted its first quarter results yesterday, was among the risers, climbing 5.2% to €84.30.

Other risers included Fever-Tree, up 3.1% to 1,144p, Ocado, up 2% to 350p, Glanbia, up 1.9% to €18.44, AG Barr, up 1.8% to 575p, Bakkavor, up 1.7% to 123p and Premier Foods, up 1.6% to 162.6p.

Fallers included Just Eat, down 3.6% to 1,172p, Cranswick, down 2.3% to 4,205p, Naked Wines, down 1.3% to 53.3p, WH Smith, down 0.8% to 1,092 and Haleon, down 0.7% to 328.6p.