Britvic Soft Drinks has appointed Simon Litherland, former head of Diageo’s British business, to the newly-created role of GB managing director.

Litherland, who at Diageo was in charge of brands including Guinness, Smirnoff, Johnnie Walker and Baileys, will be switching his attention to soft drinks on 4 October when he officially takes charge of a portfolio that includes Pepsi, Robinsons and 7Up.

He left Diageo in July two years after joining the business when he fell victim to a far-reaching shake-up of the company’s management structure as it sharpened its focus on emerging markets. International chief Stuart Fletcher was among the first to go when the restructure was announced in May, followed by Litherland and North European business head Benet Slay.

Britvic chief executive Paul Moody said Litherland’s appointment would give the GB business a tighter focus and allow its group executive committee which Litherland will sit on to concentrate on international growth through acquisitions and by extending existing franchise agreements. “He brings a wealth of experience, having performed a similar role at Diageo,” he added.

Litherland said he was looking forward to playing a part in strengthening the business. “Britvic has the widest soft drinks portfolio in Britain and has demonstrated a great commitment to constant product innovation,” he added.

Last October, when Litherland was guest editor of The Grocer, he said he liked to set clear business priorities and keep things simple. “I try to spark people’s imaginations about what they can create and achieve, and then empower and support them in making it happen,” he added.

He also said he believed in celebrating and rewarding contributions and had introduced Managing Director’s Awards for members of Diageo staff who had “achieved fantastic outcomes”. Of his work at the drinks giant, Litherland said: “A big focus has been building relationships across the business and with customers.”