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Proximo Spirits Names Michael Keyes As President And CEO

January 30, 2019

After a lengthy search, Proximo Spirits has announced that Michael Keyes will be its next president and chief executive. A 30-year industry veteran, Keyes comes to Proximo from Brown-Forman, where he served for 10 years as president, North America. Keyes will oversee Proximo’s business across the U.S. and Canada. The appointment is effective February 4.

“Mike is a proven leader with the right skills and experience to lead our most profitable markets,” said Juan Domingo Beckmann, CEO of Proximo’s parent company, Becle, S.A.B. de C.V., also known as Grupo Cuervo.

Keyes’s appointment marks a new era at Proximo, which was led by veteran spirits executive Mark Teasdale from 2007-2018. Teasdale left Proximo last summer to join former colleague Elwyn Gladstone at Malfy gin marketer Biggar and Leith. Since then, Proximo board member Michael Cheek has been serving as acting CEO.

Jose Cuervo Tequila, by far Proximo’s largest brand, was up 2% to 3.7 million cases in the U.S. last year, according to Impact Databank’s estimate. While competition has ramped up in Tequila lately, the category-leading Cuervo has continued to grow, adding about 400,000 cases to its total over the past three years, with its higher-priced Tradicional offering helping to propel gains.

Meanwhile, Proximo has looked to expand its presence in other high-growth areas of the industry, including whisk(e)y. The company acquired Pendleton Canadian whisky from Hood River Distillers for $205 million just over a year ago, and the brand continues to increase by double-digits. In Irish whiskey, Proximo recently launched the new Proper No. 12 brand, which is owned by mixed martial arts champion Conor McGregor’s Éire Born Spirits.

Proximo had total U.S. volume of nearly 10 million cases last year, Impact Databank estimates. Proximo parent company Grupo Cuervo posted North American sales up 8.9% to nearly MXN$4 billion ($203m) for its fiscal third quarter, ended in September.—Daniel Marsteller

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