SABMiller beefs up global policy comms amid alcohol regulation debates

Brewing giant SABMiller has brought in a global policy expert as the brand responds to increasingly regulated international markets.

Regulatory issues: SABMiller owns Peroni
Regulatory issues: SABMiller owns Peroni

The company, which operates across 75 countries and owns Peroni and Miller in the UK, has poached Centrica's director of public affairs and European policy Barry Neville.

Neville is set to join the world's second largest brewer in October as director of policy, public and industry affairs following 13 years with the energy business.

He follows in the footsteps of Catherine May, who joined SABMiller as corporate affairs director last October after leaving Centrica at the end of 2011 amid a wider restructure.

May explained Neville's international role had been expanded from the position of director of industry affairs previously filled by consultant Mike Short.

'We wanted to broaden the job to include a larger degree of government interaction, which is something we increasingly feel we need,' she said.

'Companies involved in the consumption of alcohol need to do more to encourage positive and healthy interaction with it to reduce harmful drinking and we've always focused on health and social interaction, but more time needs to be spent thinking about government policies. It's at the centre when it comes to reputational issues.'

The brewer now derives around three-quarters of its profits from fast-growing emerging markets where the regulatory environments are typically less evolved.

Recent moves to clamp down on drinking internationally have included the Turkish parliament approving legislation to restrict the sale and advertising of alcohol. Meanwhile in recent years the World Health Organization has called for stronger alcohol regulation through its global status report on alcohol and health.

Neville will be part of the senior leadership team reporting to May. He said: 'It is a hugely interesting role. I am looking forward to the challenge.'

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