Beer industry boss to head Starwood

Five months after the hasty departure of its CEO, Starwood has found a new boss, this time from the beer industry. The global hotel group hopes his experience managing global brands can refresh the business.

Starwood has announced that Frits van Paasschen, former President and Chief Executive Officer of Coors Brewing Company, will join Starwood as Chief Executive Officer, effective September 24th.

Mr. van Paasschen, who will relocate to the White Plains area, succeeds Bruce W. Duncan, who has served as interim CEO since April and will continue as Starwood’s Chairman.

Mr. van Paasschen, 46, has over 20 years of experience with consumer-focused, global lifestyle brands. During his two and a half years as President and CEO of Molson Coors Brewing Company’s largest division, Coors Brewing Company increased its volumes, sales, and profits. He reversed nine quarters of decline in the flagship brand, Coors Light, while growing market share and significantly improving Coors’ ranking in an independent survey of distributor satisfaction. Prior to joining Coors in 2005, Mr. van Paasschen spent seven years at Nike, Inc, where he was most recently responsible for its business in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and increased revenues from $2.5 billion to nearly $4 billion and doubled profits over a four-year period.

Mr. Duncan said, “Frits is an extremely talented and proven leader with demonstrated success in driving both top and bottom-line growth on a global scale across a variety of leading consumer lifestyle companies. Our company has never been in a stronger position, with a robust pipeline of approximately 105,000 rooms, of which over 70% are in the upper upscale and luxury segments and approximately half of which are outside of North America. We remain focused on developing and opening new properties, with 80 new openings planned for this year and over 100 for next year. With the combination of our strong foundation, exceptional in-house talent and Frits’ unique perspective, strong performance in managing global brands and deep international experience, the Board is confident in Starwood’s continued profitable growth. I look forward to working with him as we position our company for an even stronger future.”

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Stephen R. Quazzo, Chairman of the Governance and Nominating Committee of the Starwood Board, said, “During a rigorous five-month search process, the Board met with many highly qualified candidates, but we unanimously concluded that Frits is the right leader for our company at this time. He is a creative, dynamic and team-oriented executive with superb marketing skills, an approachable style, and broad experience driving consumer demand and delivering superior results across a number of marquee global brands. We are very pleased with the search process and delighted to welcome Frits to Starwood.

“On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Bruce Duncan for his tireless dedication and effective leadership during his six months as interim CEO,” continued Mr. Quazzo. “Bruce has been instrumental in guiding the continued success and strong performance of the company during a period of transition and I’m gratified that Starwood will continue to benefit from his insight and experience as he resumes his position as non-executive Chairman of the Board.”

Mr. van Paasschen said, “I am thrilled to be joining Starwood, a company that is raising the bar for service, innovation and excellence in a dynamic and competitive industry. This is an exciting period of transformation for Starwood as it establishes itself as a leading global hotel operator and lifestyle company with many outstanding brands, and I look forward to working with its strong management team and talented associates to build on Starwood’s solid foundation and take the company to the next level of performance and market impact in the years ahead.”

Before joining Nike in 1997, Mr. van Paasschen spent two years as Vice President, Finance and Planning at Disney Consumer Products and earlier in his career was a management consultant for eight years at McKinsey & Company and the Boston Consulting Group. He also serves as a director on the Boards of Jones Apparel Group Inc. and Oakley Inc. He holds an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and a B.A. degree from Amherst College.
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