Constellation Brand CEO Steps Down

Rob Sands, the CEO of Corona maker Constellation Brands, is stepping down. He will hand over the reins to the company’s president and chief operating officer, Bill Newlands, in March, the company said Wednesday. Sands, who spent more than a decade as president and CEO of Constellation Brands, said Newlands “has made a significant impact” on the company since he joined in 2015. “Bill understands what it takes to succeed in this rapidly evolving market and he’s the right person to lead our company going forward,” he added.

Once Newlands becomes CEO, Sands will become Constellation Brands’ executive chair, replacing his brother Richard Sands. Richard Sands will become executive vice chair. Constellation Brands, which also owns SVEDKA vodka and Casa Noble tequila, made a number of profitable decisions with Sands at the helm.

In 2013, the company acquired Grupo Modelo’s US beer business, including Corona and Modelo. Sands also expanded the company’s liquor and spirits portfolio and sold off underperforming international brands. Over the past five years, the company’s stock has soared by more than 255%.

In an interview, Mr. Sands and Mr. Newlands said the company would continue its tradition of making big bets such as those that have taken it beyond wine and into beer and cannabis. “The biggest challenge we have as a company is fighting complacency,” Mr. Sands said. Rob Sands’s father Marvin Sands in 1945 purchased Canandaigua Industries, a company with eight employees that sold bulk wine in barrels to East Coast bottlers. Canandaigua Wine Company Inc. went public in 1973 and was renamed Constellation in 2000.

Mr. Newlands, who lives in Winnetka, Ill., with his family and travels between the company’s operations in Chicago, New York and California, said he expects that in a decade cannabis will be “a big part of the portfolio” but there is still room for its alcohol business to grow. “It’s almost betting the company on some of these things,” he said. “That is one of the biggest appeals to me.”


Todd “Bubba” Horwitz