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David Cox to retire as CEO of The Benevolent

David Cox is to retire from his role as chief executive of The Benevolent at the end of this year.

Cox has spent nearly five years as CEO of the charity, and over 32 years in the drinks industry. After an early career outside the trade, David joined his maternal family’s wine and spirit agency firm, Matthew Clark as export director in 1985. When the family sold Matthew Clark to Constellation Brands, David joined the leading USA drinks company Brown-Forman establishing their wine division in Europe. After 14 years he then became the ‘face’ of New Zealand wines in the UK and Europe running that generic body, before joining The Benevolent in 2013.

Commenting on his career, David says: “When approached by the trustees of The Benevolent in 2013, I always knew that this role would represent an incredibly rewarding and very fitting end to an immensely enjoyable career in this fantastic trade of ours. This has definitely been the case.”

During his time at the charity there have been many achievements accomplished by Cox. The number of Corporate Partners has increased by over 90% and the revenue from their annual donations has increased by over 95%. Many more trade sectors of the UK drinks industry have now been engaged due to Cox’s extensive contacts and the charity’s awareness has risen significantly. A strategic decision was taken in 2013 to move away from owning physical retirement and care homes to a more appropriate strategy aimed at providing much broader support tailored to meet the needs of current members of the trade as well as retired employees. This heralded the introduction of the very relevant ‘emotional and practical’ type of support alongside the financial help that the charity was known for.

The new wider support introduced under Cox’s leadership led to the creation of the ‘Here to Help’ campaign, devised to raise awareness of the charity amongst the wider UK drinks industry. The campaign allowed the charity’s messaging to penetrate new sectors of the UK drinks industry and consequently reach even more members of the trade in need. Since Cox’s appointment, the welfare support provided has increased by 112%, doubling the cases of support since 2013. Cox comments: “With the growing issues of mental health and general wellbeing, we are now ideally placed to offer a much-needed safety net and support to those less fortunate than ourselves.  Given that the drinks industry represents such a wonderful community, I believe this is incredibly laudable.”

David Cox will be replaced as chief executive by Chris Porter, currently ‎director of Porter & Laker, a division of JF Hillebrand UK. With over 35 years’ experience in the logistics and freight forwarding sector, Chris Porter will be the first CEO in the charity’s 131 year history coming from the logistics service background. Moreover, Porter is not new to the charity, having been involved with the charity for over 16 years, a trustee on its board since 2010 and Chris was the chairman of The Benevolent in 2013 and 2014.

Chris Porter comments: “It was always going to take something very special for me to move anywhere after a very rewarding and enjoyable 34 years with two wonderful family businesses. The Benevolent is that something very special. It is a fantastic opportunity for me and represents everything that I believe in. I look forward to building on the terrific impact made by David Cox over the last four years, driving the charity further forwards as we develop our strategic goals. Above all, I look forward to The Benevolent being able to deliver help to a greater number of people in our national trade community who are in need and suffering hardship. I would like to thank my many clients and trade friends for their support during my years with Porter & Laker and my colleagues, past and present, for their professionalism, dedication and friendship. I look forward to continuing and broadening our association through my new role.” 

Tom Yusef, current chairman of The Benevolent, quotes: “It has been a real privilege working with David in the past few months. David has demonstrated an innovative and superb leadership, which has taken the charity to a completely different level since his appointment. I am delighted that Chris, who I have known for 27 years and worked with for 23 of those years, is already taking such a hands-on approach to his new role and I look forward to working with the team to ensure the growth and development of The Benevolent under Chris’ fresh and energetic leadership. Chris is ideally placed to engage all sectors of the trade and raise even more awareness of the important work of the charity.”

David Cox is excited about the new chapter of his life, which will be devoted to spending more time with his family, taking up cookery and photography and playing more tennis. Cox comments: “I have loved being part of this trade and so will not disappear completely.  I will still be seen at trade tastings and, if invited, still making a spectacle of myself on the dancefloor!  My only disappointment is that my twin brother Michael and I were planning to retire at the same time and dribble and moan about life together but at least people are now spared that sight!”

18 August 2017 - Sam Coyne The Drinks Report, news editor