Australian wine giant Treasury Wine Estates has announced that its chief executive Michael Clarke will retire in September next year, following more than 6 years at the helm of the company.
The news announced today sent shock waves to the market, prompting its shares on Monday to drop by 8%, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The group’s chief operating officer Tim Ford will succeed Clarke as its new chief executive after his retirement.
In August, Clarke already sold AU$3.6 million worth of shares in TWE, parent company of popular brands such as Penfolds and Wolf Blass. It’s reported in the past 15 months, he sold a total of AU$17 million of his shares.
Speaking of his decision to retire, Clarke cited family reasons as the main motive for the departure and intends to return to the UK to focus on spending time with his family.
Clarke will act as an advisor to Treasury for the following 12 months for a smooth transition.
“My mother, unfortunately, had a bad incident a couple of weeks ago. And so it’s the family side that’s making me look at the fact that I can’t sustainably keep this going – trying to do the right thing by the family and also run the business at the same time,” he said on Monday morning.
Treasury chairman Paul Rayner praised Clarke’s leadership, under which the company expanded its market reach, and its stock price and sales surged.
“It is without question the extraordinary transformation and outstanding financial returns that TWE has achieved, have been driven by Michael’s leadership over the past five and a half years,” says Rayner.
“The structural changes and initiatives delivered by Michael and his team have established TWE as a significantly stronger business than when he first joined the company, and one that is very well placed to continue delivering sustainable, margin accretive growth well into the future. I, along with the board, would like to sincerely thank Michael for his tremendous character and exceptional contribution to our company, and for his ongoing support during the transition period”.
Ford was promoted to TWE’s chief operating officer in January this year, following his stint as deputy chief operating officer tasked with running the Asia, Europe and ANZ regions.