Christopher W. J. Gaunt OBE is an accomplished business executive with invaluable international experience across several key business sectors. Spending a major share of the first few decades of his career in the beverage industry, Chris has held many top-level executive positions at international brands including Coca-Cola, Wine and Spirit Division of the Whitbread Brewery Group, HP Bulmer and Allied Domecq, and Carlsberg International.
As one of the faces that represented Coca-Cola, he travelled across many countries and cultures, including Moscow, regions of Africa, and the then-unknown areas of Central Asia, like Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, and other countries that broke up from the Soviet Union.
Chris has over five decades of experience in building cross-border relationships and collaborations, especially in Central Asia, the Middle East, and the EU. In his present capacity as the Executive Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce Turkey, Chris is responsible for representing over 800,000 Turkish businesses and Chambers in the UK.
In addition to his work with the BCCT, Chris was instrumental in the major restructuring project for a newly privatised group of FMCG companies during his time at Coopers and Lybrand in Croatia.
Chris was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2019 H.M. the Queens New Year Honors list for services to Trade and British Commercial Interests. He is also associated with the boards of many international names including Global Thinkers Forum, Suzer Group Turkey, MLA College, and Young Guru Academy, to name a few.
Christopher W. J. Gaunt OBE began his UK business career in 1973, in the Wine and Spirit Division of the Whitbread Brewery Group, progressing to Regional and National Sales and Marketing Management positions within the Group.
This was followed by Senior Management/Director positions with HP Bulmer and Allied Domecq. In 1993 he embarked on his International career and moved to Croatia as the lead Consultant with Coopers and Lybrand responsible for a major restructuring project for a newly privatized group of FMCG companies.
In 1995, he joined Coca-Cola initially in Croatia, followed by regional GM/CEO positions in Eastern Europe and start-up operations in Central Asia. From 1999 to 2000, Mr. Gaunt served as CEO of Panonska Pivovara Croatia (Carlsberg International) prior to joining the Efes Beverage Group; a subsidiary of Istanbul-based Anadolu Holdings, as the CEO of Eastern Europe operations based in Bulgaria.
He was later appointed President of Efes Invest (Coca-Cola/Anadolu Group joint venture) in 2001, responsible for Coca-Cola Bottling operations in South Caucasus, Central Asia, together with Jordan, Iraq, Syria and latterly Pakistan.
Following the merger in 2004 of Efes Invest and Coca-Cola Icecek (CCI) Turkey and the subsequent IPO in 2005 (14 times oversubscribed with a market cap of $2.5 billion), he was appointed Chief Operating Officer of the NewCo. In 2007 Mr. Gaunt was appointed President of CCI International Operations (10 countries) from which position he retired from CCI in 2011.
Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Turkey
Chris was elected Executive Chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce Turkey in June 2013. The British Chamber of Commerce in Turkey (BCCT) is the world's second-oldest British Chamber established abroad, and it offers a range of business services to promote networking and B2B matchmaking in the Turkish market. The chamber represents business people and companies of all sizes and from a broad spectrum of sectors, including major multinationals as well as a substantial number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from Turkey, the UK, and the surrounding region.
Since his joining BCCT in 2013, Chris has led the chamber to serve more than 700+ UK clients, has delivered hundreds of market-related services, and has contributed to export wins totalling more than GBP 75 million. The chamber offers market information, market access, event management, and many other services in cooperation with its extensive business network and through its partnership with 14 local chambers of commerce in the most dynamic cities of Turkey.
As Board Member
Additionally, Chris holds the following Board positions:
- Board Member, Global Thinkers Forum UK
GTF is a non-profit London-based organization with a core mission to promote values-based thinking and accountability in leadership.
- Board Member, Suzer Group Turkey
Suzer Group is an International conglomerate operating in Financial Services, Construction and Hospitality.
- Board Member, MLA College/BAU Global UK
MLA College offers Higher Education degree qualifications in Partnership with the University of Plymouth. Adding to the established Hydrographic Academy courses, new programs include undergraduate and postgraduate degree qualifications in Sustainable Maritime Operations for Seafarers together with promoting gender diversity in the Marine industry and UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- Trustee, Young Guru Academy International London
YGA is an international non-profit established in 2000 in Turkey. Its volunteers develop international projects to help solve the problems societies and communities face, including socially responsible leadership development, gender equality, SDG’s and ESGs.
Chris Gaunt's vision is to build strong relationships and collaborations across borders, cultures, and business sectors. With over five decades of experience in building cross-border relationships, especially in Central Asia, Africa, and the EU, Chris has developed valuable expertise in networking and creating opportunities for business people and companies of all sizes and from a broad spectrum of sectors.
In a recent interview with Dinis Guarda, he said:
"If I face an issue that I can't really resolve myself and need extra support for, I then call upon my network of corporate colleagues to support and advice on that. So, it is a merger of experience and capabilities that gets us through those difficult issues to provide sustainable solutions."
He carries a global perspective of businesses and firmly believes in integrating different cultural and geo-political nuances while strategising businesses and collaborations across borders.
“For people who have been to business schools and other places where you get taught about best practices and all such fancy terms. You quickly realise that when you are in an environment where you have to work across different cultures and borders, these concepts don't actually work. There is a combination of practices that you have to bring together. So, best practices specifically in Uzbekistan, actually make Uzbekistan work, and you can't ignore that. You've got to integrate that with what has been with you and make sure that you make the best of both. This applies globally”, he says.
Recognition and Awards
- Board Members I British Chamber of Commerce Turkey
- Interview: Chris Gaunt OBE on Bloomberg HT I Youtube
- The British Chamber of Commerce I Open Business Council
- Christopher Gaunt, OBE I Global Thinkers Forum
- BCCT Chairman Chris Gaunt Awarded OBE I ISSU
- Interview: Chris Gaunt – Chairman, British Chamber of Commerce in Turkey I Pharm Boardroom
- Chris W. J. Gaunt — Mentoring. Inspiring. Empowering I Global Thinkers Forum
- Christopher Gaunt OBE - Chairman Of The Advisory Board I LinkedIn
- Chris Gaunt Awarded OBE for Services to International Trade, Investment and Exporting I British Chamber of Commerce
- Chris W. J. Gaunt, Chairman, British Chamber of Commerce in Turkey I Ivoox
- Bridging the UK and Turkish Economies: Chris W. J. Gaunt I IntellengentHQ
- Christopher GAUNT - Order of the British Empire I Gazzette
- Centre for Diplomatic Relations and Political Studies - DIPAM I Facebook
- BCCT: Advocating for British Businesses in Turkey I Citiesabc
- Dinis Guarda YouTube Podcast Series - Chris W. J. Gaunt I Apple Podcasts
- Turkey's growth performance catches UK's attention I Anadolu Agency
- British Governor of Eurasia in Turkey Christopher William James Gaunt I DikGazate
- Dinis Guarda YouTube Podcast Series - Chris W. J. Gaunt I Deezer
- Political Economy of Türkiye-United Kingdom Relations I Dipam
- Dinis Guarda YouTube Podcast Series - Powered by Citiesabc I BuzzProut
- Turkey to continue attracting UK firms for investment, businesses | Daily Sabah
- Turkish deputy foreign minister reveals UK lifted ban on arms sales to Turkey I Nordic Monitor
- British firm seeks to draw $4B solar battery investment to Türkiye | Daily Sabah
- UK firms consider Turkey regional hub I Anadolu Agency
- Exclusive Interview with the Turkish British Chamber of Commerce: Part One I Global Britain
- Turkish, British investors to gather in Istanbul | Daily Sabah
- British, Turkish business people to gather in Istanbul I Anadolu Agency
- Turkey 'vibrant environment' for UK investors: Consul I Anadolu Agency
- 200 Turkish firms recently invested in UK: Ambassador I Anadolu Agency
- British Irish Chamber of Commerce proposes new customs union with EU I BBC