UNIVERSAL Robina Corp. (URC) has appointed Irwin C. Lee, who previously headed Procter and Gamble’s (P&G) operations in the United Kingdom, as its new chief executive officer, president, and director, handing over the reins to a non-Gokongwei family member for the first time.
Mr. Lee will replace Lance Y. Gokongwei, who will now sit as the company’s chairman, according to a disclosure to the stock exchange on Wednesday. Former Chairman James L. Go will now serve as chairman emeritus, while John L. Gokongwei, Jr. will now have the official title of chairman emeritus and founder.
The new appointments will take effect on May 14.
Prior to joining the branded consumer food and beverage company, Mr. Lee has served as the CEO of Rustans Supercenters since 2016.
The Filipino-Chinese executive spent a big portion of his career with multinational firm P&G. He was the managing director of P&G in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and later in Northern Europe for eight years. Mr. Lee had also worked for P&G in China for 10 years, and was chief finance officer for P&G Japan/Korea for two years.
Mr. Lee graduated summa cum laude from De La Salle University with a degree in accounting.
Mr. Lee’s appointment comes on the heels of Gokongwei-led Robinsons Retail Holdings, Inc.’s purchase of Rustan Supercenters through an P18-billion share swap deal with Mulgrave Corp. BV.
The deal will allow the Gokongwei group to take control of the high-end grocery chain, which operates retail brands such as Marketplace by Rustans, Shopwise Supermarket, and Wellcome, among others. — Arra B. Francia