Guinness and Diageo have announced that Paul Carty is to retire as Managing Director of the Guinness Storehouse. He joined as MD in its year of opening year almost two decades ago. Under his leadership, visitor numbers have increased six-fold from under 300,000 to almost 1.8 million in 2019. Catherine Toolan will become Managing Director from the beginning of April.
Paul has overseen the development and expansion of facilities at the Storehouse, forging it into one of the most successful brand experiences in the world. He also led the management and opening of the Smithwick Experience in Kilkenny, the Guinness Open Gate Brewery on James’s Street, and the latest addition to Diageo Brand homes, the Roe & Co whiskey experience. During Paul’s tenure, more than €50 million has been invested in the Storehouse leading it to be voted Europe’s favourite tourist attraction in 2015. The latest investment in the expansion of the unique Gravity Bar, which will be opened later this year, is also a significant achievement for Paul’s career.
Mark Sandys, Global Head of Beer, Baileys and Smirnoff, said: “Over his time, nearly 21 million people have entered the doors of the Guinness Storehouse, including kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers, superstars and rock singers. Regardless of who they are, Paul and his team have given each and every one the same warm welcome, as if they are visiting their home, the home of Guinness.
“We have all loved working with Paul whose passion, commitment, kindness and energy are inspiring to everyone. We are sad to see Paul move on after his incredibly successful tenure, but happy that he will have a well-earned retirement and no doubt, still engage with enthusiasm in the tourism sector and continue to share his wisdom. One of his biggest legacies will be the culture of customer care and employee engagement that is the hallmark of his leadership.”
Paul has also played a critical role in the development of tourism and hospitality in Ireland. He has acted as an adviser to many projects and initiatives and has made significant contributions to shaping the strategy of the sector, not least during his term as president of the ITIC (Irish Tourism Industry Confederation), and as a board member of Fáilte Ireland. He was instrumental in the formation of AVEA (Association of Visitor Experiences and Attractions), which now has over 105 members throughout the island of Ireland. He has acted as an ambassador for Ireland and its hospitality offering in numerous tourism trade events abroad, becoming one of the most recognisable and respected faces in Irish tourism globally.
Guinness has also announced that Paul’s successor will be Catherine Toolan, who will take up the role of Managing Director of the Guinness Storehouse from the beginning of April.
From Sligo, Catherine has had a very successful career in the conference, events, live music and hospitality industry spanning three continents, including senior roles in Aramark, close partner of the Guinness Storehouse. She was also responsible for managing the delivery of the Athletes Village at the Beijing and London Olympic Games.
Catherine’s most recent role as Chief Executive of the International Convention Centre, Belfast has seen her transform the organisation to compete globally, and work with key stakeholders to develop a business tourism strategy and win large business events, contributing significant positive economic impact to Belfast and Northern Ireland.
Mark Sandys said: “We are so excited to have Catherine joining our team. She brings a wealth of experience in event and visitor experience management as we move into a new era for the Guinness Storehouse and our other brand homes. I am looking forward to seeing Catherine’s energy, drive and vision leading this great business forward to even greater heights.”