Brewery searches for marketer down under after sudden loss

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Brewing giant Lion Nathan has begun an international search for a new marketing director for its Australian operations following the shock resignation of Toby Balfour after just six months with the company to become Australian managing director of global sportswear group Nike.

"It was just too good an opportunity to let go," says Balfour, who says he was headhunted by Nike. The exit coincides with a period of instability within Lion's Australian executive ranks. The new managing director, South African Tony Van Kralingen, joined only two weeks ago, replacing Leon L'Huillier who quit in June after only 18 months with Lion.

Balfour's exit comes a week after the brewer disclosed its share of Australia's $4bn beer market had dropped 1% to 42%. Foster's holds a record 56%. Main local brands are Castlemaine XXXX, Tooheys, Swan and Hahns. "I guess the timing of my move is unfortunate, but it's not a major blow," says Balfour who had said his focus was to move the company away from niche beer products back to its main brands. "I think I've given this place a fresh pair of eyes."

Copyright August 1996 Crain Communications Inc.

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