Starwood Hotels has stuck with the consumer goods sector for its new CEO. The 46-year old Frits van Paasschen had previously been running the largest division of Molson Coors Brewing.
Prior to joining Coors in 2005, van Paasschen had spent seven years at sportswear brand Nike, including a stint running the EMEA operation.
It is this experience with consumer lifestyle companies that has most excited Starwood as it strives to distinguish itself through its brands. Starwood sees itself as more of a lifestyle company than a hotel company.
It has taken five months to hire van Paasschen but he will be taking up his post in less than three weeks on September 24. At that point interim CEO Bruce Duncan will resume his role as non-executive chairman.
Unlike with Steve Heyer, who was ousted in April after losing the confidence of the board due in part to what was deemed inappropriate relationships, van Paasschen will be relocating to White Plains. Heyer had maintained a satellite office in Atlanta.
According to press reports, the losing finalists in the search included former Gap clothing chain CEO Paul Pressler and the ex-head of Pepsi Bottling Group John Cahill.
The hiring of a new CEO has convinced most observers that the threat of a private equity buyout has now receded, though in reality, the funding difficulties due to the credit market turmoil make a move in the short-term highly unlikely.
The appointment was also well received due to the EMEA experience of van Paasschen while at Nike. His posts earlier than this also gave some confidence, including two years at Disney. His early business career also included eight years as a management consultant at McKinsey & Co and Boston Consulting.