In an effort to “better align” its internal structure with its “long-term business strategy,” Anheuser-Busch has split its “High End” craft and import division into two separate business units.
Announced to employees and distributors yesterday, the restructuring will include the creation of a standalone craft beer division, led by Felipe Szpigel, whose title will change to “president of craft.”
Moving forward, the 12 brands that will comprise the craft business unit include 10 Barrel Brewing, Blue Point Brewing, Breckenridge Brewery, Devils Backbone Brewing, Elysian Brewing, Four Peaks Brewing, Golden Road Brewing, Goose Island, Karbach Brewing, Veza Sur Brewing, Virtue Cider and Wicked Weed Brewing.
Craig Weiner, A-B’s senior director of craft sales, will lead trade marketing, sales strategy and craft expansion for the new business unit.
Meanwhile, Carolyn Zwiener, the company’s director of craft marketing, will lead marketing functions for A-B’s craft brewery partners and oversee innovation as well as content creation.
Sales and marketing responsibilities for the remaining “High End” brands — Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Estrella Jalisco, Franziskaner, Beck’s, and Shock Top – will now fall to A-B’s core sales and marketing teams. Those brands will be overseen by Brendan Whitworth, A-B’s vice president of sales, and Marcel Marcondes, the company’s vice president of marketing.
“Today’s announcement is an important step to better align our commercial structure with our new long-term business strategy, specifically as it relates to premiumization and innovation,” Josh Gold, A-B’s senior director of corporate communications wrote to Brewbound via email.
Additionally, a pair of newly-created dedicated sales and marketing teams will work to push A-B’s “Beyond Beer” offerings — like non-alcoholic energy drink Hiball, which it acquired last year, and flavored malt beverage offerings like Spiked Seltzer – in the marketplace.
“We are encouraged by the early signs of growth that have been reported, and believe this new structure offers us the best opportunity to build on the momentum,” Gold wrote.
As part of the changes, fewer than 10 employees were laid off, another spokesperson confirmed to Brewbound.
Additionally, Megan Lagesse, who had been serving as The High End’s director of internal planning and strategy, has taken over as senior director of communications for the craft business unit.
Adam Warrington, who had been leading communications for The High End, has been named the vice president of A-B’s “Better World” strategy, where he will oversee the company’s broader sustainability and alcohol responsibility initiatives.
Meanwhile, A-B’s “Elevate” initiative, which was launched last December and is aimed at making its craft beer and cider companies better stewards of the industry, will continue to receive investment and support from the craft business unit. The Elevate website will also be updated to reflect the internal changes in the coming months, a spokesperson confirmed.
The restructuring come about eight months after A-B named Michel Doukeris, the company’s former chief sales officer, as its new North American CEO.
The announcement also comes about 10 months after A-B reorganized its sales organization and laid off as many as 350 employees in the process. A majority of those cuts impacted employees in the High End division.