Fortune Brands, Inc. will see its current president and COO, Bruce Carbonari, succeed Norm Wesley as CEO effective January 1, 2008. Wesley will continue as chairman of the board. He will have served as CEO for eight years at the time of the transition. Carbonari has also been elected a member of the board effective August 21.
“This announcement today begins a smooth transition of leadership and provides continuity for Fortune Brands,” Wesley said. “Fortune Brands has a proud history of developing management talent from within, and my decision and this transition are logical steps in that process. In fact, Bruce will have served as president and COO for the same length of time that I did before becoming CEO at the end of 1999.
“Bruce has been a big part of Fortune Brands' success over his 17 years with the company,” Wesley continued. “He's led our biggest brand and our biggest business unit, generating strong growth at each. As president, he's skillfully overseen all our company operations. Over the years, Bruce has helped us create substantial shareholder value by driving strong organic growth, developing new growth platforms, strategically accessing and successfully integrating acquisitions, and improving supply chains. Bruce possesses a valuable blend of strategic and tactical expertise and will hit the ground running as CEO.
“By continuing to serve as chairman, I will look forward to continuing to lead major strategic initiatives, including our interest in the sale process surrounding Absolut vodka,” Wesley added.
“I'm honored by the opportunity to succeed Norm as CEO at year end and to lead a great team of 33,000 Fortune Brands people worldwide,” said Carbonari. “I look forward to building on our company's success and to maintaining our sharp focus on creating value for shareholders. That includes a sustained commitment to the strategy that has served Fortune Brands so well: investing to grow our leading consumer brands, positioning our businesses for stronger growth and higher returns, transforming operations to improve performance and cost structures, and leveraging the company's financial strength to drive shareholder value higher.”
Sustaining Strong Leadership at Fortune Brands
Bruce Carbonari has held key leadership positions at Fortune Brands for the past 17 years. He became president of Moen Incorporated in 1990, the year it was acquired by Fortune Brands. After serving as president and CEO of Moen, Carbonari led Fortune Brands' Home & Hardware subsidiary from 2000 through 2006. He was elected president and chief operating officer of Fortune Brands in December 2006. He earned a BA in finance and accounting from Boston College and a master's degree in management sciences from Hartford Graduate Center, an affiliate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Carbonari currently serves as Vice Chairman of the policy advisory board for the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, as well as on the board of RPM, Inc.
Norm Wesley became chairman and CEO of Fortune Brands in December of 1999, after serving as president and chief operating officer for a year. During his tenure as chairman and CEO, the company's annual sales have grown from $5.5 billion to $8.8 billion, EPS before charges/gains has grown from $1.99 in 1999 to $5.30 in 2006, and the stock price has grown from $31 to more than $80. Wesley led a portfolio realignment that established Fortune Brands as a more sharply focused leading consumer brands company. The major strategic moves he initiated include the acquisition in 2005 of more than 25 premium spirits and wine brands, development of the company's distribution partnerships with Absolut vodka, and the value-creating spin-off of the office products business.