Paul Walsh is to leave Diageo after 13 years as its chief executive.

On 1 July, Walsh will hand over the reins of the Smirnoff and Guinness owner to chief operating officer and Diageo veteran Ivan Menezes. Walsh will step down from the board at Diageo’s AGM in September, but will remain with the business until 30 June next year to help with the handover to Menezes.

Walsh joined the brewing division of GrandMet – which later merged with Guinness to form Diageo – in 1982 and became finance director in 1986. He was made Diageo COO in January 2000, and became CEO eight months later. He is also a non-executive director of FedEx Corporation, Unilever and Avanti Communications.

“Paul is an outstanding chief executive,” said Diageo chairman Dr Franz B Humer. “He has served our business, its shareholders, employees and partners with enormous imagination and dedication.

“The transition process that has been put in place enables Paul to contribute his knowledge and experience during Ivan’s first year as chief executive officer.

Menezes has been Diageo COO since last March, and prior to that was president and CEO of Diageo North America for eight years. He joined Diageo in 1997 and has also held various senior management positions with Guinness.