FRIDAY, APR. 13: Edward Shirley has been appointed the new president and CEO of Bacardi Ltd, taking over the reins from the retiring Séamus McBride.
Mr Shirley, 55, is from the US and is married to Marge, with three children — daughters Kristen, 27, and Caitlin, 25, and son Alex, 23.
He was formerly the vice chairman of the Global Beauty and Grooming Business Unit of Procter & Gamble, responsible for $38 billion in sales.
He serves on the board of directors of Time Warner Cable and has a BBA with a major in Accounting from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Bacardi will remain loyal to the island home of its global headquarters, new president and CEO Edward Shirley said yesterday.
He told the Bermuda Sun: “We are close to 50 years here in Bermuda and are here for very strategic reasons.
“The community has been a good friend to Bacardi and we believe that by being a good corporate citizen, we can be a good friend to Bermuda.
“I see no change in our position here and I look for the Bacardi business to grow.”
Commenting on his appointment, Mr Shirley said: “I couldn’t be happier that the family and the company wanted me to join them as its president and CEO.
“This is a great industry and this is a growth industry.
“The Bacardi story over the last 150 years is a great story. It’s about passion, freedom and bringing innovation to create great cocktails, but in a very responsible way. So I couldn’t be more thrilled to be here.”
Asked how he will move the company forward and whether his approach will be markedly different from predecessor Séamus McBride’s, he said: “I’m a builder so I like to build on previous success stories.
“I don’t think the strategy is going to change. We need to win with the Bacardi brand globally. We’ve got a great asset in Grey Goose vodka and need to extend distribution and availability of that on a global basis.
“We have a great whisky brand, Dewar’s, we need to revitalize.
“We have got one of the most enviable portfolios in the spirits industry and our job is to build the brands so we can build their full potential and (global) reach.
‘That’s what my predecessor was doing and that’s what I will keep on doing.”
Mr McBride told the Bermuda Sun earlier this year: “We have a fabulous and famous portfolio of leading brands but don’t yet have the perfect portfolio. There are gaps we would like to fill if the opportunity presented itself.
“We are also interested in new brands.”
Mr Shirley said: “There are some gaps of segments of the spirits industry we’d love to participate in, but I believe we have enough to win on what we have.
“Innovation plays a role for us in our existing portfolio.
“I believe Bacardi Oakheart is the best spiced rum in the industry and we are launching Grey Goose Cherry Noir, which is an incredibly flavoured premium vodka. Bombay Sapphire East expands on the botanical story of Bombay Sapphire, and in Europe we have Martini Royale which combines Vermouth and sparkling wine.”
He added a new cognac is also to be launched in the US next month.
“Innovation is clearly the cornerstone of our growth strategy,” said Mr Shirley.
In terms of new markets, he said: “We’re the market leader in Russia across the total spirits industry, and we are building on our success in India where we continue to show very nice double digit growth.
“Our Brazil business is being driven by our Big Apple flavoured rum and we are still working hard on our Asia strategy.
“So the course that my predecessor undertook (Mr McBride), we are going to carry on with that.”
Can he envisage the company returning to Cuba as the country opens up to a free market economy?
“If Cuba were to ever reopen I am sure there would be a strong desire from the family for the business to go back to where it started.
“The family didn’t want to leave, their assets were taken from them (in 1960 by the new Communist regime in the Cuban Revolution) and they were smart and creative enough to protect their trademarks outside of the homeland, Cuba.
“They set up their operations in order for them to protect the Bacardi brand and build the business outside of Cuba, and for the last 50 or 60 years they have been doing that.
“But I think that timetable (return to Cuba) is anybody’s guess.”
Bacardi is renowned for its corporate and social responsibility, and this month is to fly its global managers to Bermuda to take part in a fundraising event for CADA (Centre for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention).
The cocktail evening at Bacardi’s global headquarters in Hamilton will mark the start of Corporate Responsibility Month.
As part of Bacardi’s 150th anniversary celebrations, its annual Corporate Responsibility Week has this year to become a month of activities as staff around the world volunteer time to local causes and charities.
The managers will become bartenders to help raise money for CADA’s TIPS programme, which trains bartenders to serve alcohol responsibly.
Mr Shirley said: “Bacardi has a passion and a sustained commitment to corporate responsibility.
“It goes along with the trade, of being in the spirits industry, and I think Bacardi has been a leader in this.
“I will have my Global Leadership Team here and we will be participating in the TIPS programme, a training programme for bartenders, to help reinforce all the essentials of corporate responsibility, whether it’s addressing underage drinking or drink driving.
“We embrace both corporate and social responsibility, both as a brand and as a company.
“I’m really pleased I will have my Global Leadership Team here to participate, and it gives us a real opportunity to connect. I will be bartending as well — I can’t wait.”
Mr Shirley is a keen golfer and spent Good Friday with his family flying kites at Horseshoe Bay, and eating fish cakes and hot cross buns.
Over the next few months the family are expecting lots of visitors.
“Maybe I can do my part for the tourist trade,” he joked.
For more on Bacardi, the company, the family, the brands and history, see the Bermuda Sun’s supplement to commemorate Bacardi’s 150th anniversary year online HERE.