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Diageo has this morning announced that long-serving CEO Sir Ivan Menezes has passed away following a brief illness.

On Monday the group announced incoming CEO Debra Crew would assume her role a month early on an interim basis due to a “significant” health set-back suffered by Menezes over the weekend.

This morning, chairman Javier Ferrán commented: “This is an incredibly sad day. Ivan was undoubtedly one of the finest leaders of his generation.

“Ivan was there at the creation of Diageo and over 25 years, shaped Diageo to become one of the best performing, most trusted and respected consumer companies. I saw first-hand his steadfast commitment to our people and to creating a culture that enabled everyone to thrive. He invested his time and energy in people at every level of the company and saw potential that others may have overlooked. This is one of many reasons why he was beloved by our employees, past and present.

“Ivan’s energy and his commitment to diversity created a truly inclusive business and enabled Diageo to have a positive impact on the communities we serve. His passion for our brands was second-to-none and in his heart, he remained the Johnnie Walker marketer from his early days. The desire to build the world’s best brands never left him.

“We are truly privileged to have had the opportunity to work alongside such a thoughtful and passionate colleague and friend - a true gentleman. He has built an extraordinary legacy.

“Ivan leaves behind many friends and a beloved family, and our thoughts are particularly with his wife, Shibani and his two children, Nikhil and Rohini. On behalf of the Board, executive committee and all our employees, we extend our deepest sympathies to them.”

Indian born Menezes was one of Britain’s longest serving and most respected FTSE Chief executives, transforming Diageo into the world’s leading premium drinks company and which accounts for 10% of the UK’s total food and drinks exports.

He joined Diageo at its creation in 1997 and held many senior positions in a career spanning over 25 years at the company.

He had served as CEO since July 2013 and was due to retire on 30 June 2023.

In January 2023, he was awarded a Knighthood for services to Business and to Equality in His Majesty The King’s 2023 New Year Honours List.

Morning update

English wine producer Gusbourne saw a near-50% jump in sales last year and narrowed its loss.

For the year to 31 December 2022, the group’s net revenues were up by 49% to £6.24m, with strong growth across the Group’s three main distribution channels:

UK Trade sales were up by 53% to £3.1m, while DTC sales – including tours and cellar door operations in Kent – were up 29% to £1.7m and international sales grew by 78% to £1.4m.

Gross profit margin improved to 59.2% from 55.9% during the period, which helped adjusted EBTIDA loss narrow to £1.13m from £1.45m

During the year it acquired a further 55 hectares of freehold land for £1.7m and the group is planning to plant most of this new land with new vineyards in 2024.

CEO and chief winemaker Charlie Holland commented: “I am pleased to report another excellent performance in 2022 where Gusbourne delivered further significant growth and execution of our strategy. Despite a challenging macroenvironmental backdrop, we have continued to see significant consumer demand for Gusbourne wines, reflecting the luxury status of the Gusbourne brand and the underlying growth of the dynamic English wine sector.

“We have seen strong revenue growth across all our sales channels, both in the UK and internationally, as the quality of Gusbourne’s wines continue to gain praise and critical recognition, further cementing our excellent reputation. At the same time, price / mix was a positive driver of our gross margin.

“With these strong results, a fantastic harvest in 2022, the purchase of new land during the year and healthy inventory levels in our cellars, the Board continues to look to the future with great confidence as we further strengthen our position as one of the UK’s most significant fine wine producers.”

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 has edged down 0.1% to 7,623.9pts.

Risers include Associated British Foods, up 3% to 1,895.5p, Marks & Spencer, up 2.8% to 192.8p and Nichols, up 1.5% to 994.9p.

Fallers include Deliveroo, down 3.4% to 98.7p, Ocado, down 1.7% to 352.5p and Bakkavor, down 1.6% to 94.3p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 closed yesterday up 0.4% to 7,628.1pts.

British American Tobacco was up 1.5% to 2,609p after releasing a first half pre-close trading update detailing strong growth in tobacco alternatives.

Risers included Ocado, up 4.4% to 358.4p, Bakkavor, up 4.1% to 95.8p, McBride, up 3.8% to 30.1p, Naked Wines, up 1.6% to 112.6p and B&M European Value Retail, up 1.2% to 539.8p.

The day’s fallers included Just Eat, down 4% to 1,168p, THG, down 1.3% to 62.8p, SSP Group, down 1.3% to 267.2p, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, down 0.9% to 58.5p and Haleon, down 0.8% to 327.6p.