Merchant Berry Bros & Rudd has revamped its management structure, with managing director Hugh Sturges departing after 14 years with the company and Kirsten Kilby appointed chief executive of the wine division.


Simon Berry has become acting managing director of BB&R Ltd, one of a series of moves designed to reward existing talent in the company, as well as ‘more fully integrating’ members of the owning families.

Berry will also chair a new management board, also comprising Elizabeth Rudd, Edward Rudd, Jeremy Parsons and Mandy Venters, with direct support from non-executive directors.

Parsons has been appointed commercial director of the group, but remains chief executive of BB&R Spirits, with Natalie Tennent taking on some of his responsibilities there as its new chief operating officer.

Meanwhile, Kirsten Kilby becomes chief executive of the wine business (excluding Asia), Geordie Willis is named creative director, and Edward Rudd has been appointed as financial planning director.

The changes come after the 317-year-old company reported three consecutive years of losses. For the year to the end of March 2014, the firm reported net losses of £5.7m, versus losses of almost £6.6m in the previous year, with results partially damaged by a legal dispute with the group’s former distributor in Hong Kong.

But, net sales for the year increased by 8% to £149.7m and the group said its long-term business plan was on-track, according to company accounts filed with UK Companies House.

It sold its stake in the Cutty Sark Scotch whisky brand in 2010, embarking on a five-year development programme to focus on distribution of high-end wine, spirits and beers both in the UK and overseas.

Sturges was instrumental in the composition and execution of that strategy, but understands that there are no plans for any drastic change in strategic direction following his departure, and that the company is happy with the progress to date.

It is understood that there are currently no plans to replace Sturges directly – many of his responsibilities have been distributed among the new management team – and that the post of MD will be kept under review.

Simon Berry said Sturges’ role had been ‘very important’ to the transformation of the company.

Written by Richard Woodard