NEW YORK, April 19, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — illycaffè, a global coffee industry leader in sustainable quality, announced today that Jack Edwards will join the company as President of North America, effective April 19.
Edwards is a seasoned executive who spent nearly two decades with Diageo, a leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of brands across spirits and beer. Most recently, he served as Senior Vice President of Sales and National Accounts for The Diageo Beer Company USA, one of three divisions of Diageo’s $6B NA business, where he led a team of 115 people and a distributor network responsible for Guinness, Smirnoff Ice, and other major and emerging brands.
“Jack’s broad and deep skillset, commitment to excellence, comprehensive understanding of consumers, knowledge of the premium beverage industry, and record of leading strategic growth are ideally suited to our North American business, which is poised for expansion among coffee lovers across all channels,” said Massimiliano Pogliani, CEO of Trieste, Italy-based illycaffè. “His extensive experience, combined with his sharp leadership acumen, are aligned to successfully realize illy’s long-term plans.”
Edwards’ career at Diageo started in Chicago in finance, before moving into cross-functional positions spanning portfolio planning, marketing, and sales. He transferred to the company’s Norwalk, CT U.S. headquarters in 2005, where he managed regional sales teams and earned additional responsibilities. During this time, Jack helped launch several successful new innovations and drove significant growth on brands including Bulleit Bourbon and Ciroc Vodka, and his teams delivered best in class execution across the entire Diageo portfolio.
Edwards holds an MBA degree in Business Administration from the Kellogg Business School at Northwestern University. Prior to joining Diageo, he was an auditor at KPMG.
illycaffè announced in February it had closed a strategic investment by Rhône Capital, an important step in leading the company into its next phase of international growth, particularly in the U.S. Earlier this month, illycaffè became the first Italian coffee company to obtain B Corp status, underscoring the company’s commitment to generating a positive impact on society and the planet, and affirming its business model which is based in creating sustainable value for the long term.
illycaffè is an Italian family-owned company, founded in Trieste in 1933. Its mission has always been to offer the best coffee to the world. illycaffè produces a unique 100% Arabica blend, combining 9 of the best varieties in the world, selected by illycaffè: every day 8 million cups of illy coffee are served in over 140 countries around the globe, in the cafés, restaurants and hotels, in single-brand cafés and shops, at home. As a result of its innovations, illycaffè contributes to the coffee technology progress at global level. In 1991, the “Premio Ernesto Illy de qualidade sustentavel do cafè para espresso” was launched in Brazil for quality espresso coffee. illycaffè has contributed to the sharing of the know-how, paying growers a premium price for the best quality selected by illycaffè. Since 2016, with the “Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award”, the company has celebrated coffee growers all over the world that, according to illy, have produced the best sustainable coffee. Since 2013, the company has been in the list of the World Most Ethical Companies. In 2019, it enhanced its commitment to pursue a sustainable business model integrating the interest of people with the environment, adopting the status of Società Benefit (Benefit Company) and adding this commitment into its own bylaw. In 2021, illycaffè was the first Italian company in the coffee sector to obtain the international certification as B Corp as a result of its commitment to comply with the highest standards of social and environmental performance. The company also founded the University of Coffee, which has the objective of sharing culture at all levels, offering a comprehensive and practical training to growers, baristas and coffee lovers. Everything that is “made in illy” is about beauty and art, the founding principles of the brand, starting from its logo, designed by artist James Rosenquist, up to illy Art Collection cups, decorated by over 100 international artists. In 2019, the company had 1405 employees and a turnover of € 520,5 million. There are 269 illy single-brand shops in over 40 countries all over the world. In 2021, Rhone Capital became a shareholder of illycaffè with a minority share to support the company in its international growth.
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