Appletiser has hired ex-Health Lottery sales director Tony Holmes as commercial director for Europe.

The move is a return to the drinks sector for Holmes, who spent 17 years at Coca-Cola Enterprises before joining The health Lottery four years ago.

Appletiser is sold in the UK, Ireland, Belgium and the Canary Islands and part of Holmes’ remit is to bring the fizzy apple juice drink to new markets.

The brand is owned by SABMiller, who works with different bottlers in different countries, including CCE in the UK and Orangina Schweppes in Belgium. “My role is to work with the system and build execution capability with those guys,” Holmes said.

“I’ve got experience of the bottling system and I know the process and the people. The beauty for me is that it’s a very nimble and entrepreneurial world. Yes, Appletiser is owned by a multinational, but they can make decisions quickly.”

Appletiser, which had previously been sold in glass bottles, launched in PET bottles in the UK in April. “Now it’s in the right pack, the opportunity is significant,” Holmes said. “There are all sorts of places you can go with it, but right now it’s about getting the distribution right, driving the rate of sales and some innovative marketing.”

Holmes joined The Health Lottery in 2008 but left earlier this year, following its October launch. “My objective was to launch it and get a half year under my belt. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved,” he said.

The Health Lottery has not replaced the role of sales director, and the four-strong sales team is now lead by head of sales Henry Chambers.

“Tony Holmes was instrumental in launching The Health Lottery brand, establishing us in over 36,000 retailers at launch,” said COO Dave Wall. “His enthusiasm and drive helped establish THL’s profile.”