Imperial Brands PLC has announced that Stefan Bomhard will be its new Chief Executive Officer. Bomhard comes from Inchcape plc, a global distribution and retail company in the premium and luxury automotive sectors where he has served as CEO since 2015. Bomhard will succeed Alison Cooper, whom the company announced back in October would be stepping down as CEO.

“After a thorough search process, which attracted strong, high calibre interest, the Board is delighted to appoint Stefan as Chief Executive of Imperial Brands. Stefan has significant experience across multiple consumer sectors and within large multinational organisations, particularly in brand building and consumer-led sales and marketing. He has demonstrated strong strategic and operational leadership and has developed a track record of delivering successful transformational change during his tenure at Inchcape. Stefan takes on the Chief Executive role at a significant point in Imperial’s development and the Board is confident that his experience and expertise will drive the business forward. Stefan’s initial priorities will be to strengthen performance and enhance shareholder value,” commented Thérèse Esperdy, Chairman of the Board, in a press release.

Prior to joining Inchscape, Bomhard served as President of Bacardi Limited’s European region. He has a PhD in marketing. Other past experience includes serving as Chief Commercial Officer of Cadbury plc after being Chief Operating Officer of Unilever Food Solutions Europe. He also has had senior management and sales and marketing roles at Diageo (Burger King) and Procter & Gamble. Bomhard is also a Non-executive Director on the Board of Compass Group PLC.

On his appointment, Bomhard commented: “I’m delighted to be joining Imperial as the next Chief Executive. I believe the business has a great future and I’m looking forward to working with the Group’s employees to maximise the opportunities that lie ahead and build a stronger, more sustainable business.”

Bomhard’s effective date as CEO is still to be announced. Until the point his appointment is made official, Dominic Brisby currently Divisional Director, Americas, Africa, Asia and Australasia, and Joerg Biebernick, Divisional Director, Europe, will assume the roles of Joint Interim Chief Executive Officer reporting directly to Esperdy.

In addition to Bomhard’s appointment, Imperial also announced that effective immediately, Matthew Phillips has stepped down as Chief Development Officer and as a Board director.

“I would like to thank Alison for the enormous contribution she has made to Imperial over her 20-year career with the Company, nine of which have been as Chief Executive. The Board would also like to recognise the continued leadership and commitment she has shown to the business over recent months while the search for her successor was underway. I would also like to thank Matthew for the significant contribution he has made during his seven years on the Board, and during his 20-year career with Imperial.”

Meanwhile, Imperial Brands is in the process of divesting its premium cigar business. This business includes Tabacalera Premium Cigars, Altadis U.S.A., JR Cigars, Casa de Montecristo retail operations, Santa Clara Cigars, and Imperial’s 50% stake in Habanos S.A.  The company expects to realize proceeds of up to £2 billion by May 2020 around the divestment. No announcement of who will acquire this business has been made at this time.