Anheuser-Busch InBev this week announced changes to a U.S. division it calls “The High End,” eliminating the “CEO of Craft” position previously held by longtime executive Andy Goeler.
Goeler, who had been focused on growing A-B’s involvement in the craft category, will transition into an expanded vice president of marketing role, working directly with both the company’s acquired craft breweries as well as brands like Stella Artois and Shock Top.
In a conversation with Brewbound, Felipe Szpigel, president of The High End, described the move as a “natural evolution.”
“The main reason [for the change] is that Andy has already managed these brands before,” he said. “He’s an expert and I needed help with the management of the full portfolio.”
A-B has acquired eight craft brands since 2011 — Goose Island, Blue Point Brewing, Elysian Brewing, 10 Barrel Brewing, Golden Road Brewing, Four Peaks Brewing, Breckenridge Brewery and Virtue Cider — and the added complexities of advising on so many different initiatives required a more streamlined approach, Goeler said.
“I think the marketing function has become more of a need for us to focus on as we’ve grown The High End to where it is today,” he said.
So rather than having A-B’s craft outfits operate independently from other labels within The High End division, the group will now support all brands across departments such as sales, marketing and finance.
“For the craft operators basically [the structural change] streamlines things for them, it gives a bit more speed and empowers them to do whatever they need to do to take their business to the next level,” Szpigel said. “My role and my team’s role is to amplify what they’re building with each of their breweries and brands.”
By restructuring, A-B also eliminated any confusion as to who was at the helm of The High End. As the organization’s unequivocal leader, Szpigel said he would now be the primary point of contact for all of the breweries in the portfolio.
“We’re basically connecting the founders and presidents of those breweries directly to me,” he said.
The changes will also give The High End brands better access to A-B’s strategic and financial resources, while simultaneously allowing Goeler and Szpigel to pivot if necessary.
“I think there are going to be a million minor learnings that we’re gonna have as we go, but in terms of changing the organization, I think we’re happy with where we are,” Szpigel said. “The future is the future so we never know where we’re gonna go, but nothing [is set to change] in the immediate future.”