Previous chairs have been selected from the senior drinks executives who make up the body's council, but the post will be Seymour Fortescue's first within the drinks trade.
Fortescue was chief executive of the Banking Code Standards Board for seven years, the only self-regulatory body remaining in retail financial services. Previously, he was chief executive of the Health Education Authority, chief executive of Barclaycard and head of marketing for Barclays Bank.
He said: “The Portman Group is already a highly respected alcohol regulator and is a key player in addressing the adverse aspects of our drinking culture. I look forward to working closely with other groups to build a consensus around actions that promote responsible attitudes to alcohol. I firmly believe that self-regulation based on a tough code of practice that is rigorously monitored and enforced is the right way forward.”