Simon Thorpe, the president of Duvel Moortgat USA, has resigned and will be replaced by Jeff Krum, who currently serves as Boulevard Brewing’s vice president of corporate affairs.
Thorpe, who has served as the president and CEO of Duvel USA since 2009, will continue in an advisory capacity through the end of August, the company said.
Duvel Moortgat CEO Michel Moortgat — who oversees all of the company’s international operations — and Thorpe reportedly came to a mutual decision about the departure, according to Duvel chief operating officer Daniel Krug.
“Simon and Michel have worked closely together for eight years. Their deep friendship and mutual appreciation made this a difficult decision,” he said via email.
Thorpe was instrumental in helping Duvel Moortgat broaden its U.S. business through mergers and acquisitions, overseeing the purchase of Boulevard Brewing in 2014 and Firestone Walker in 2015. The company also owns Brewery Ommegang in upstate New York.
“We are grateful for Simon’s strong leadership, and wish him the very best in his future endeavors,” Michel Moortgat said via a press release.
In 2013, Thorpe told Brewbound that Duvel USA was looking to purchase as many as three U.S. craft breweries before 2018. That plan seems to have remained in place, as the company has remained active in its assessment of potential craft investments.
It’s unclear what impact, if any, the move will have on Duvel’s overall U.S. strategy, but Thorpe isn’t the only key executive heading out the door. Marketing director Jeremy Ragonese left Duvel to take a position as Uinta Brewing’s new chief marketing officer last month, and Bill Wetmore, who had served as the marketing director for Brewery Ommegang, also announced his departure in July.
Those exits came about one year after Steve Mills, who had served as Duvel’s chief sales officer, left to serve as the CEO at Uinta Brewing.
In the release, Moortgat cited Krum’s “deep roots” within, as well as his “strong commitment” to the Duvel organization as qualities that make him the right choice for leader of its U.S. business.
Duvel Moortgat USA is currently ranked as the 24th largest supplier of malt beverages to the off-premise channel, according to market research firm IRI Worldwide. Dollar sales in multi-outlet and convenience stores were up just one percent year-to-date through July 10, according to the firm. Sales of Firestone Walker, however, which were not included in those figures, are up 54 percent during the same period, according to IRI.
In an interview with Brewbound earlier this month, Thorpe said that sales of Boulevard Brewing’s canned beer packages had “exploded” in 2016 and suggested that the company could sell as much as 50,000 barrels of canned product this year.
Boulevard produced 196,000 barrels in 2015, up four percent versus the prior year, according to Brewers Association records. Brewery Ommegang, meanwhile, made 49,000 barrels of beer, according to the BA.
With a combined production total of 245,000 barrels last year, Duvel Moortgat USA ranked as the 15th largest craft brewing company in 2015, according to BA records. Firestone Walker was ranked as the 13th largest craft brewing company and produced 273,800 barrels of beer.
The official press release is included below.
August 17, 2016 – Kansas City – Duvel Moortgat USA today announced that longtime company veteran Jeff Krum has been appointed president of Duvel Moortgat USA, Boulevard Brewing Company and Brewery Ommegang. He assumes the role from Simon Thorpe, who will continue in an advisory capacity through the end of August.
“Since coming together as a family of breweries in 2014, we’ve made great strides growing our business in this dynamic and ever-changing industry,” said Michel Moortgat, CEO of Duvel Moortgat NV. “We are grateful for Simon’s strong leadership, and wish him the very best in his future endeavors. Jeff’s deep roots in our company, extensive experience and strong commitment to our organization make us confident he is the right person to oversee our US operations.”
Krum joined Boulevard in 1994 and played a key role in the company’s growth, serving as chief financial officer for 20 years before transitioning to vice president of corporate affairs for the combined companies in 2014. Krum is a co-founder of Ripple Glass, formed in 2009 to provide a regional solution to glass recycling, and is active in civic affairs, serving on the board of directors of the Kansas City Streetcar Authority, the Downtown Transportation Development District and the Kansas City Economic Development Corporation.
About Duvel Moortgat
Duvel Moortgat is a fourth generation, family-owned craft brewer based in Puurs, Belgium. The company owns and operates several breweries in the United States and Europe, including Boulevard Brewing Co. in Kansas City, MO, Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY and Firestone Walker Brewing Co. in Paso Robles, CA; Duvel, Brasserie D’Achouffe, Liefmans, Vedett and Maredsous in Belgium; and Brewery Bernard in the Czech Republic. For more information, visit www.boulevard.com, www.ommegang.com, www.firestonebeer.com and www.duvel.com.