Thompson’s appointment follows Peter McDonough’s resignation after almost nine years with the company. Thompson will report to the president, Diageo North America and will be a member of the North America executive team.
“James brings with him a unique breadth of experience, having held a range of marketing, general and commercial management roles during his two decades within Diageo,” said Syl Saller, Diageo’s global chief marketing officer. “His strength in leadership, creative rigour and proven track record in building brands ranging from Guinness to Johnnie Walker Blue Label will be a huge asset to our North America business.”
Diageo is currently experiencing weak demand in the US for many of its liquor brands. In January, the company reported that sales declined 2 per cent in North America, its most profitable region.
As MD of the Reserve business, Singapore-based Thompson was in charge of luxury brands such as Johnnie Walker Blue Label, Cîroc Vodka, Ketel One Vodka and Don Julio Tequila. The company credits him with strengthening and accelerating its leadership in the luxury category.
Prior to this, he spent six years as chief marketing officer, Asia-Pacific.
A Diageo spokesperson said the company would announce Thompson’s replacement shortly.
Last July, the global spirits giant appointed Pedro Mendonca as its new managing director of innovation for Asia-Pacific and promoted Apurvi Sheth to MD for Southeast Asia emerging markets and joint ventures.