Coles appoints new liquor Chief Executive

28 October, 2019 by Andy Young

Coles has revealed it has appointed its new Chief Executive Liquor, with Darren Blackhurst due to join the team early in the new year.

In an internal message to Coles Liquor team members, CEO Steven Cain set out Blackhurst’s experience and also thanked Cathi Scarce for her work as Acting CEO for Coles Liquor.

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“Darren joins us with over 25 years’ experience in international retailing and an impressive background delivering results, driving change and leading highly-engaged teams,” the message said.

“He has most recently been Group Commercial Director of Morrison’s in the UK since 2015, where he took the business from declining turnover to 11 consecutive quarters of growth. Prior to this he was Commercial Director of UK home improvement company Kingfisher, CEO of homeware and fashion retailer Matalan, and Group Trading Director for ASDA/Walmart. He spent the first 18 years of his career with Tesco, starting as a buyer and advancing to the role of Commercial Director.”

Cain said that Blackhurst knows the liquor space intimately having managed it as Morrisons, Asda and Tesco.

He added: “Darren will be taking the reins from Cathi Scarce who has done a wonderful job as acting Chief Executive Liquor for the past 18 months.

“Cathi’s led the team during a period of significant change, including our demerger and ASX listing and transition to our new Coles Group vision, purpose and strategy. Under Cathi’s passionate leadership, our Liquor business has grown sales and profit.

“She has overseen the successful roll out of 37 First Choice Liquor Market store conversions, the joint venture with Australian Venue Co for Spirit Hotels and led a four per cent improvement in engagement and an 11 per cent improvement in team member safety.

“We are now working with Cathi on her next exciting role with Coles. She will continue to act in the role until Darren joins us, and they will then work closely together to ensure a smooth transition.”

Blackhurst says he is “delighted to be joining Coles at this exciting time, and I’m planning to come and visit some stores over the next few months before I officially start. I’m really looking forward to working with the Coles Liquor team to serve and inspire our customers”.

Cain added: “Liquor has a very important role to play in our strategy and plans for the future, and we are looking forward to the considerable experience that Darren will bring to our Liquor business and to the Coles Executive Leadership Team.”