Diageo's Debra Crew takes over as interim boss with Sir Ivan in hospital

Debra Crew who has been appointed as interim chief executive at Diageo with immediate effect while its existing chief undergoes emergency surgery

SPIRITS giant Diageo has announced the appointment of Debra Crew as interim chief executive with immediate effect while its existing chief undergoes emergency surgery.

Ms Crew was due to take over as boss of the firm from July 1, when Sir Ivan Menezes will be retiring after a decade in the top job.

Sir Ivan is currently in hospital receiving treatment for medical conditions including a stomach ulcer, Diageo said.

"Over the weekend, we learned that Ivan's recovery suffered a significant setback due to complications, which followed emergency surgery on the ulcer," the company said in a statement.

"Our thoughts are with our much-loved colleague, Ivan, and his family."

Ms Crew will be the firm's first female chief executive, stepping up from her current position as chief operating offer.

Sir Ivan joined Diageo, which owns brands including Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness, when it formed in 1997 and has spent more than 25 years in senior positions.

He was knighted for services to business and to equality in the King's 2023 New Year Honours list.

Meanwhile, Ms Crew has held senior positions at tobacco company Reynolds American and PepsiCo, and previously served as an officer in the US army.

She will take over at the helm alongside chief financial officer Lavanya Chandrashekar.

Diageo was named the top company for female representation at board level in the FTSE Women Leaders Review in February.