Nestlé Waters North America (NWNA), Stamford, Conn., announced that Fernando Mercé has been named president and chief executive officer of the company. He assumed the position May 1.

Mercé, formerly chief executive officer of Nestlé Purina Latin America & Caribbean, will oversee all NWNA’s operations in both the United States and Canada. He also will serve as a member of the global Nestlé Waters board of directors.

“I am delighted that Fernando will be leading Nestlé Waters North America as it begins an exciting new chapter,” said Maurizio Patarnello, chairman and chief executive officer of Nestlé Waters, in a statement. “His proven leadership, passion for innovation and deep commitment to creating a learning culture will enrich our strong NWNA teams and ensure that we build on our growth legacy to retain our leadership position in the category.”

At Nestlé Purina Latin America & Caribbean, Mercé presided over a sustained period of strong results, including double-digit increases in organic growth, profitability and market share, all while introducing key innovations to the pet care category, the company says.

“Today, we are at an inflection point in the North American consumer beverage category, and I’m looking forward to becoming a part of it,” Mercé said. “Following a shift over many years, bottled water is now America’s No. 1 beverage choice, displacing carbonated soft drinks. As this migration continues, we are well-positioned to expand in the United States and Canada with leading brands that are poised for strong growth.”

Mercé began his career with Nestlé in 1992 as an industrial engineer with the operations improvement team before joining marketing and steadily increasing his responsibilities, the company says. His roles have included eBusiness development, director of marketing for the Friskies brand and global marketing director in the PetCare Global Strategic business unit. Mercé also served as vice president and deputy of Nestlé’s Americas Zone before moving to Nestlé Purina, it says.

Mercé holds a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering from Northwestern University and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. Carlos Romano, business executive officer of Nestlé Food & Beverages Argentina, will be joining Nestlé Purina as president of Nestlé Purina Latin America & Caribbean, it adds. BI