Incoming Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersley aims to ‘maximize the potential of our business’

Gavin Hattersley’s top priority when he takes over for a retiring Mark Hunter as Molson Coors president and CEO in late September: restoring the company’s brands to glory, premiumizing its portfolio in all markets and developing new beverages to meet the changing tastes of consumers around the globe.

“There will be change,” Hattersley, 56, said in a conference call with Wall Street analysts yesterday. “We need to consider all options that we can take to maximize the future potential of our business, and to create additional firepower to put behind our brands and in order for us to innovate.”

The goal:  Driving “increased shareholder value” and regaining the “confidence of investors and use that confidence to propel our business forward in a way that is best set up for future success,” he said.

Molson Coors announced Hattersley’s promotion yesterday. The South Africa native, who has served as CEO for Molson Coors U.S. business unit MillerCoors over the last four years, will take over as president and CEO of Molson Coors effective Sept. 28.

He will take over the post from Mark Hunter, a 30-year beer industry veteran who announced his retirement.

Hunter, 56, has been with Molson Coors since 2002, serving as president and CEO since 2015. During his time with the company, he has played a key role in every significant event in the company’s history, including the acquisition of the Carling business in the U.K. in 2002; the merger of Molson and Coors in 2005; the formation of the company’s U.S. joint venture, MillerCoors, in 2008; and the acquisition of Starbev, its Central and Eastern European business, in 2012.

Hunter also orchestrated the acquisition of the remainder of the MillerCoors joint venture from SABMiller in 2016. The company has effectively doubled in size under his watch.

“It’s been the joy of a lifetime to work on these great brands with so many inspirational colleagues for all of these years at Molson Coors,” Hunter said in a statement. “I will forever remain a brand ambassador and advocate for this business and will be there to support Gavin every step of the way. I have worked very closely alongside Gavin for many years and know the sharpness of his intellect, the intensity of his passion for the company and quality of his character. He will be a terrific leader of the overall business.”

Hattersley took the top job at MillerCoors in September 2015 after spending three years serving as global CFO of Molson Coors and four years as CFO of MillerCoors. His replacement has not been determined.

“I care deeply about our company, our brands and our people,” Hattersley said in a statement. “My commitment is to work hard, to be an empathetic leader and, above all, do whatever is necessary to maximize the potential of our business in order to restore shareholder value."

In the call with analysts yesterday, he said he plans to spend the next few months working to develop a long-term plan for Molson Coors, which like its competitors is under pressure globally by slowing demand for beer and changing consumer tastes.

In order to get the industry — and the company — back to sustainable growth, “the beer industry needs to evolve quickly, and it needs to evolve with consumers preferences, which are changing quickly,” Hattersley said in the call with analysts. “We must move at a much faster pace with our innovation pipeline and on recruiting and focusing on new drinkers with our core brands, both here in the U.S. and globally. Innovation is essential. Above-premium is essential. And focusing on evolving consumer tastes is essential.”

Hattersley has presided over a U.S. business amid a transformation.

The company over the last two years has been investing more in higher-priced above-premium products to meet changing consumer demands. MillerCoors has ramped up investments behind its Blue Moon and Peroni brands. It acquired the U.S. marketing rights to the Mexican import Sol and relaunched the brand into the above-premium space. And two new innovations, Arnold Palmer Spiked and Cape Line Sparkling Cocktails, have each ranked among the best-selling new items in their segments over the last two years.

MillerCoors also is testing a line of wine spritzers called Movo, a hard coffee under a partnership with La Colombe and a craft light lager called Saint Archer Gold.

On top of that, it’s changed course on its overarching marketing strategy with the hiring of a new chief marketing officer, Michelle St. Jacques, who has shifted greater investment behind digital advertising and launched a thorough overhaul of the marketing campaign for Coors Light.

“I think you can see an increased pace with how we’re doing our marketing,” Hattersley said in the call. “We’ve targeted investment behind brands where we think we’ll see the most returns. When we have good ideas, we’ll put money behind them."

With MillerCoors, “we’re changing where we’re marketing, changing who we’re marketing to and the pace with which we’re getting things done,” he said.

Now he’ll get a chance to do it a global level.