Is the need for agility the cause of recent restructures?

For a variety of reasons, a lot of which are interconnected, there are several extremely notable corporate restructures taking place in the FMCG and retail worlds at the moment. Some are on a massive scale, while others are related to individuals at the very top level. All are crucial in their own ways. What’s interesting here is that firms that appear poles apart in outlook are going through similar processes at the same time. I thought it would be interesting to look at the strategies that different companies employ when dealing with reshuffles like these.

Some recent restructures have been relatively widespread. Diageo, the largest premium beverages firm in the world, has expressed a desire to become more agile in recent months, and CEO Ivan Menezes has backed this up with a range of executive moves that streamline divisions: CFO Deirdre Mahlan has taken responsibility for supply chain and buying, for example. Diageo’s geographic representation is also shifting – it has been announced that Nick Blazquez is to head up Africa, Eurasia and Pacific. All in all, Menezes’ ploy of saving £200m per year at the same time as making its cross-market presence felt more effectively seems to be working!

Other family-run firms are exploiting their internal cultures to see changeover periods through effectively. Drinks giant Bacardi, for example, has seen chairman Facundo Bacardi taking on interim duties after Ed Shirley’s planned retirement was announced. Although he is only a stop-gap until an interim CEO is appointed (who himself will fill time until Bacardi names a permanent heir), the news shows that in family-owned businesses there always tends to be a pair of experienced, capable hands ready to step in and take on important roles. This strength of culture ensures that directional leadership is never a problem in difficult moments. Another firm that thinks in a comparable way is Mars, which has just named Grant Reid its new president and which still boasts a member of the Mars dynasty on its board.

Another way of looking at things is to take advice from external sources, which is what Asda CEO Andy Clarke did in commissioning a thorough review of the business from strategy consultants McKinsey. This has led to a new focus on stores, with £750m committed to portfolio expansion, and an extensive restructure of the firm’s roster of senior managers. Replacing the influential Judith McKenna, who moved to Walmart earlier this year , will be difficult. McKinsey’s work forms a key part of Asda’s five-year revival plan, though, which shows initiative and long-term thinking.

As we’ve explored, there are any number of interesting ways to address restructures. We shall see how the influential departures within Diageo, Bacardi and Asda pan out in the coming months! Which other notable reshuffles have I missed out? Let me know at, and have a fantastic weekend.