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Kingfisher legal chief Wardle joins newly-merged Coca-Cola bottler

In a week that has seen several high-profile moves within the in-house community, Kingfisher group general counsel (GC) Clare Wardle has been recruited by new soft drink entity Coca-Cola European Partners as GC and company secretary.

Coca-Cola European partners is the new name for the recently combined Coca-Cola Enterprises, Coca-Cola Iberian Partners, and Coca-Cola Erfrischungsgetränke. The merger of the trio, completed last week, creates the world’s largest independent Coca-Cola bottler based on net sales.

Wardle (pictured) will be based in Uxbridge and serve as a member of the executive leadership team reporting to chief executive John Brock. She will work closely with the company board of directors and and additionally serve as legal adviser to company chairman Sol Daurella.

Wardle, who features in the 2016 GC Power List, has a long and varied career. Called to the Bar in 1984, she moved to Lovells in 1986 for ten years. Her first stint in-house was at the Post Office, where she served as head of legal before working as general counsel and company secretary at Tube Lines.

She joined British retailer Kingfisher in 2010 as group legal director and took over as group GC in 2012, where she became responsible for risk, legal and governance matters.

The retailer operated a lean legal team of three lawyers during Wardle’s tenure, preferring to keep day-to-day work in-house and only outsource specialist mandates to firms.

Wardle was expected to carry out a major review of the company’s external legal adviser panel this September.

Brock said: ‘Clare’s strong track record as general counsel for a FTSE 100 company in the European retail industry, coupled with her extensive knowledge of UK governance, makes her ideally suited to lead the legal function of Coca-Cola European Partners.’

He added: ‘For many years, Clare has demonstrated a keen proficiency in risk management, governance, competition and compliance, and we look forward to welcoming her to the Coca-Cola system.’

Wardle’s departure follows the news earlier this week that Deutsche Bank’s longstanding legal chief, Emma Slatter, is to leave the bank after 20 years to launch a consultancy business. Yesterday (1 June) it emerged that British American Tobacco has appointed Irish lawyer Ronan Barry as its new legal chief to succeed Benoit Belhomme following an internal shakeup of the company’s legal division.

Read more about Clare Wardle in the GC Powerlist 2016.