David Williams has been appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of The PGA European Tour effective 1st January 2014. This follows the announcement in May 2013 that Neil Coles MBE would be stepping down from the role which he has held for the past 38 years.
David will be responsible for building on the legacy left by Neil Coles MBE, further developing the Tour and its business activities around the world.
David brings considerable commercial experience to The PGA European Tour having led a wide range of public and private businesses over the last 35 years both as CEO and as Chairman. These include senior roles at Whitbread Group PLC, Diageo PLC and PepsiCo Restaurants Inc, Mothercare PLC and the Royal London Mutual Insurance Group Ltd. David has worked across the world and his global experience will be invaluable as The PGA European Tour reaches out into new markets.
He is currently Chairman of the Operating Partners at Duke Street Capital and acts on the Boards of a number of well known businesses in this capacity. David has an MSc in Management from the London Business School where he was a Governor.
The appointment meets all of the original objectives set by the Nomination Committee; key requirements included proven business leadership, an interest in golf, and the ability to deal with the diverse sporting, business and political issues faced by the Tour.
The incoming Chairman, David Williams, has a proven track record of building consensus amongst key stakeholders in consumer, leisure and retail businesses and of taking organisations into new business areas or in a different strategic direction. Williams has won particular praise for his strong interpersonal abilities, leading and motivating management teams, driving change programmes, and positioning businesses and Boards for growth.
Commenting on his appointment, Williams said, “To follow in the footsteps of someone who has been as much of a figurehead as Neil Coles is a tremendous honour. The European Tour brand is strong and I will work with George O’Grady, his Executive team, the Players and the Board to take the organisation forward. In particular I’ll be looking to ensure that the Tour is structured in a way which enables it to further increase its expansion and appeal across the globe as well as working with the players and our business partners to promote long-term sustainable growth.”
The Chief Executive of the European Tour, George O’Grady CBE, welcomed the appointment: “The unique strength of the European Tour is the fact that the Members, through their representatives on the board, govern the Tour. They have chosen David Williams as Chairman as his management expertise, commercial experience, and business credentials will give everyone, those within the Tour and those connected to us, great confidence. I am delighted to personally welcome David to the European Tour, and look forward to working with him, as we face our challenges both on the European and the global stage.”
Thomas Björn, Chairman of The European Tour Players’ Committee said, “On behalf of all of the players on The European Tour, I am delighted to welcome David as our new Chairman. David’s business credentials speak for themselves and I look forward to working with him as we continue to build on the success of The European Tour around the world.I know every one of the players will be delighted to welcome David personally at the first event he attends.”
David Jones, European Tour Board Director and Chairman of the Nomination Committee commented, “For the first time ever the Board and Players took the step of looking outside the ranks of professional golf for a Chairman. What came through most strongly from all of the candidates is the respect and admiration in which the European Tour is held in the wider commercial world. In David Williams we have chosen a Chairman who brings a powerful business background to the European Tour. His strength of character and broad experience will be a huge asset for the Tour in developing our influence in the world of golf.”
Paul McGinley, the current European Ryder Cup Captain and a European Tour professional since 1992, said: “These are exciting times for The European Tour and the appointment of someone with the business acumen of David Williams is undoubtedly good news for our development both at home and around the world.
“In my role as a member of the Players’ Committee and, indeed, as Ryder Cup Captain, I have seen at first hand the importance of the commercial aspect of golf and how it needs to work hand in hand with the playing side. In our new Chairman we have someone who will bring these two elements together.
“Finally, I would like to put on record my own appreciation for the tireless work done in the role by Neil Coles over the past 38 years. Everyone involved in golf has the utmost respect for what Neil achieved in the game, both on the golf course and in the boardroom, and we all wish him well in his retirement.”
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