Gavin Blair has been appointed as Diageo’s channel director for convenience in the UK, replacing Peter Faulds. Blair has ambitious targets to increase spirits sales in c-stores over the next three years by 10% to 15% over and above inflation.

Diageo already sells £216m of spirits a year to the convenience channel, accounting for 24% of spirits sold to c-stores in the UK but Blair reckons it has scope for growth. “We are very much supermarket-centric at the moment,” he told The Grocer in an exclusive interview. “The great thing about convenience is that there are further opportunities. BWS is the second-largest category in convenience but spirits only has 1% penetration.”

Blair concedes spirits are more expensive in c-stores than in off-licences but said the price difference was only about £1 a bottle, which was still “good value for money”. The key to success would be to get spirits out on shelves rather than behind the counter, said Blair. He is considering ways to work with small stores to improve their security measures.

Blair also aims to grow sales of Pimm’s outside the southeast of England. Aged 34 he already has a wealth of experience, having worked for major suppliers. After graduating from Strathclyde University with a degree in marketing and economics, he joined Asda’s graduate programme. This was followed by stints at Mars in various account management roles and at Nestlé in account controller and other commercial roles. Most recently he was head of sales support at S&N.