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United Spirits names Abanti Sankaranarayanan as Biz Head, Luxury and Corp Relations

United Spirits Limited (USL), the leading spirits company in India, and a subsidiary of Diageo plc, has named Abanti Sankaranarayanan as Business Head for Luxury and Corporate Relations, India. With this move, Abanti joins the Executive Committee of USL. Abanti has an outstanding track record of over 20 years in the consumer industry and has been Managing Director of Diageo India since July 2012, leading Diageo’s ambitious business mandate for international spirits in India. Under her leadership, Diageo’s brand portfolio in India delivered strong double digit growth and high market share gains coupled with robust equity results.

Commenting on her appointment, Anand Kripalu, MD & CEO, USL said, “We are delighted to have a leader of Abanti’s talent and global calibre to lead our Luxury portfolio and drive our Corporate Relations efforts in India. Her extensive leadership experience and expertise will add strong momentum to the growth of USL’s business in India.”

A new Luxury unit is being set up in USL for the premium brands of the portfolio with the objective of maintaining Diageo’s premium brand leadership. Creating a center of luxury excellence will provide focus behind the fastest growing segment of the Indian alcobev market. The Luxury business will encompass Diageo’s iconic brands such as Johnnie Walker, Ciroc and the Single Malts.
In addition, Abanti will lead the new Corporate Relations function that has been set up to drive USL towards strong leadership and execution on Public Policy, Regulatory, Tax & Trade affairs, Alcohol Policy, Corporate Reputation & Brand, and Sustainability & Responsibility.  In this role, Abanti will build key stakeholder relationships with regulators, government, industry bodies, NGO partners and relevant members of civil society.

Reacting to her appointment, Abanti Sankaranarayanan said, “I am delighted to take up this new position at USL as we continue the journey to make USL the most trusted and respected consumer goods company in India.”

Abanti joined Diageo in June 2010 and was responsible for the brand building of iconic global brands like Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff, VAT 69 and Cîroc as the Marketing and Innovation Director, Diageo India. It was in this position that she became known for her brand marketing expertise, strategic and commercial leadership and executional excellence.
A strong advocate for Diageo’s Diversity & Inclusivity agenda in India, Abanti has won several prestigious accolades in the last few years. Recently, Abanti was featured in IMPACT’s 50 most influential women of 2015. She was also featured in India Today’s list of ‘India’s 25 most influential women: 2013’ and Fortune magazine’s 2012 list of ‘The Most Powerful Women in Business.’

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