CEO Bob Kunze-Concewicz is stepping down after sixteen years at the head of the Campari group. During that time, the CEO made 27 acquisitions, including the particularly successful purchase of Aperol. Today, the latter is twice the size of flagship Campari itself.
Defensive move proves worth its weight in gold
The Campari group is so much more than the eponymous bitter red drink: the Italian spirits group owns more than fifty brands, from Wild Turkey whisky to Grand Marnier. Outgoing CEO Kunze-Concewicz, in particular, is responsible for more than half of those acquisitions.
Particularly interesting is Aperol: the small regional Italian brand was a competitor that was more than a hundred years old, but Kunze bought it as a defensive move to eliminate a potential rival. Today, Aperol is more than double the size of Campari itself (21 % of group sales versus 10 %) and a global phenomenon.
Under Kunze-Concewitz, the group’s sales and profits tripled, despite three billion euros of investment. Sales of Aperol even increased twelvefold (!), while the Italian drinks holding company evolved from nine to 23 production facilities worldwide in the past sixteen years.
Make them taste
The secret to that growth is aggressive expansion and ditto marketing. Kunze-Concewitz had worked at Procter & Gamble for sixteen years before being lured to Campari as marketing director. After barely a year and a half, he became CEO. His strategy? “Getting liquid to lips“, he once told Cheddar News. Get customers to taste your product, meaning being strategically present is the message.
For Aperol, the latter was done with a sophisticated multi-year plan for each country. First, the brand positioned itself as a summer drink for about five years, then it moved to winter venues (like Christmas markets and ski resorts). Finally the step was made to consumption locations – preferably in combination with trendy sharing dishes.
Now, however, it is time for the 56-year-old CEO to rest on his laurels. Despite retiring in April 2024 to focus on “personal passions”, however, he will become a non-executive member of the board. His successor will be Matteo Fantacchiotti, currently managing director for the Asia-Pacific region. To ensure a smooth transition, Fantacchiotti has already been appointed deputy CEO, a position he assumes with immediate effect.