Anheuser-Busch InBev is once again shaking up its North American executive leadership team, today announcing the appointment of a new CEO to oversee its largest market, among other key changes.
Michel Doukeris, the company’s current chief sales officer, will take over as the CEO of A-B InBev North America, supplanting current zone president and CEO João Castro Neves, who will depart the organization after 22 years to “pursue other opportunities.”
The transition will begin immediately, with Castro Neves staying on to help acclimate Doukeris, who will take over as CEO on January 1, 2018, the company said.
“Michel has extensive experience delivering results for our business worldwide, including helping to grow Budweiser globally and launching The High End business strategy, which now represents 5 billion USD of sales,” A-B InBev CEO Carlos Brito said via a press release.
In addition to naming Doukeris as CEO, A-B also announced several other changes to its North American leadership team, including the departure of vice president of sales Alex Medicis after 13 years with the company. In a press release, A-B said Medicis “made the personal decision to step down and pursue other interests.”
Medicis will be replaced by Brendan Whitworth, who joined A-B in 2013 after five years at PepsiCo. Whitworth had most recently been leading A-B’s trade marketing, category and sales technology efforts in the U.S.
Brito discussed the changes in an interview with Brewbound, noting Doukeris’ time as zone president in Asia-Pacific, where he worked to build A-B’s business in China.
“China came from nowhere to today being among our top five markets in terms of profitability and growth,” Brito said. “He also built a very strong market leadership position in Korea and also seizing India and Vietnam.”
Doukeris, 44, has been with the company for 20 years and held the chief sales officer position for just 11 months before ascending to CEO.
He is the third Brazilian to oversee A-B’s North American business since Belgium-based and Brazilian-led InBev purchased the St. Louis beer company for $52 billion in 2008. Prior to Castro Neves, the division was led by Luiz Edmond, who had been serving as the chief sales officer until his departure in January.
Asked how wide of a search was conducted for the company’s next CEO, Brito told Brewbound that A-B looks to promote from within “90 percent of the time.”
“That’s why we invest so much time in building our talent pipeline — our bench,” he said. “When an opportunity like this comes up, it’s bittersweet because João is leaving, but on the other hand, it’s a great opportunity to use our talent pipeline.”
Brito denied that the personnel moves were made due to the continued struggles of A-B’s flagship Budweiser and Bud Light brands. Since 2008, A-B has lost 7.2 percent of its market share and ceded more than 14 million barrels of beer.
“We’re in this business for the long term,” he said. “And it’s not one quarter or one year that will make us change our minds on people and talent. But, on the other hand, people have plans and companies have plans and they have to respect those plans.”
Castro Neves’ future plans are unclear. He said he’s been pondering stepping down since turning 50 earlier this year.
“I came to the conclusion that it was time to slow down a bit and start the next chapter,” he said. “Spend some more time with the family as I think about whatever I will do.”
A-B, meanwhile, will move into the third phase of a North American leadership strategy that, until now, had been focused on cost cutting and M&A.
Brito said he would measure Doukeris’ success by his ability to grow revenue, something that will come in two ways: First, Doukeris will be tasked with turning around the Bud and Bud Light brands. He’ll also oversee the continued development of the company’s “High End” division of craft beer, cider and import brands — which are outpacing industry-wide craft trends, Brito added — and be asked to grow sales of Michelob Ultra, which now accounts for close to 10 percent of the company’s total business.
“A lot of our future will depend on that High End having a bigger role,” he said. “Of course, I’d like to see Bud Light stabilized, and that’s part of the metrics that we have for Michel. It’s not going to be overnight. It’s a brand that has close to 20 percent of share of total beer in the U.S., and, of course, the market got much more fragmented but we have to get Bud Light more and more ready for this kind of market.”
In order to help stabilize and return A-B’s core brands to growth, Doukeris said he plans to spend a lot of time with A-B’s team on the ground, strengthening communication with its wholesaler partners. He added that the No. 1 priority for growing the beer category is a “ruthless focus on consumer needs,” and the need to identify more drinking occasions. The latter is something Castro Neves discussed at the recent National Beer Wholesalers Association convention
“We really need to make sure everybody understands that we must grow the beer category,” he said at the time. “Core and lager business are key for the growth of the category. Performing well with Bud and Bud Light and our value portfolio is key if we want to get the category to growth.”
Doukeris said he plans to make A-B faster and more nimble, and he aims to improve the company’s capabilities in digital, data and analytics.
“It’s not only about being being big but about being fast,” he said.
Additionally, A-B announced made the following announcements:
- A-B vice president of business and wholesaler development Bob Tallett will now report directly to Doukeris in a move toward “strengthening our partnership with our wholesale network.” Tallett is a 40-year company man.
- Agostino De Gasperis, who had served as vice president of people in Canada, has been appointed vice president of people (human resources) while Sandro Bassili moves into a new role with ZX Ventures.
- Fued Sadala, who currently serves as vice president of logistics and procurement, will now be fully dedicated to logistics.
- Ingrid De Ryck, who previously led the company’s packaging and procurement program in North America, has also been appointed vice president of procurement and sustainability.
Doukeris’ hiring follows two significant organizational announcements made earlier this year. In September, the company laid off approximately two percent of its 18,000 North American employees. Many of those cuts were made within its High End division. In March, A-B appointed Andy Goeler, then the vice president of marketing for the High End, as vice president of Bud Light.
A pair of press releases with additional details are included below.
Anheuser-Busch InBev Appoints Michel Doukeris Zone President North America, CEO of Anheuser-Busch
Brussels — Anheuser-Busch InBev (Euronext: ABI) (NYSE: BUD) (MEXBOL: ANB) (JSE: ANH) announced today that Michel Doukeris has been appointed Zone President North America and CEO of Anheuser-Busch, effective January 1, 2018. Michel presently serves as Chief Sales Officer of AB InBev. He succeeds João Castro Neves, who decided to step down from the role to pursue other opportunities after a long and distinguished career with AB InBev, and will support Michel during a transitional period.
“The US is our most important market and we recognize the need to continue to focus on driving topline growth across our portfolio,” said Carlos Brito, Chief Executive Officer of AB InBev. “Michel has extensive experience delivering results for our business worldwide, including helping to grow Budweiser globally and launching The High End business strategy, which now represents 5 billion USD of sales. He is the ideal person to lead North America at this time, together with an emerging group of leaders being elevated in the company. Our people are key to our future and Michel’s journey with us demonstrates how we develop talent and reward success.”
Brito continued, “We thank João for his 22 years of partnership and significant contributions to our company. He has been an outstanding leader, transforming our business in Latin America North and South. Most recently in the US, he spearheaded foundational changes including winning with our wholesaler partners, expanding our portfolio of craft partners, and accelerating the growth of Michelob Ultra, the fastest-growing beer brand in the US.”
“Anheuser-Busch’s culture and rich brewing history are admired around the world and it is humbling to have the opportunity to lead our North American business,” said Michel Doukeris. “Our success starts with putting the consumer first. I will be focused on working in partnership with our wholesalers and building lasting relationships with our customers and business partners. We have a great team in the US and Canada. I know that together we can grow our business with our portfolio of iconic brands.”
Over the course of his 20-year tenure at AB InBev, Michel has transformed businesses by delivering topline growth, embracing innovation and focusing on long-term results. He oversaw a significant acceleration of our business during his seven years in China. Michel developed AB InBev’s premium portfolio, launched new product portfolios and entered new markets. As Chief Sales Officer he led sales strategy globally including providing strategic insight into the company’s long-term growth plans.
About Michel Doukeris
Michel Doukeris joined our company in 1996 and held sales positions of increasing responsibility before becoming Vice President Soft Drinks for our Latin America North Zone in 2008. He was appointed President AB InBev China in January 2010 and Zone President Asia Pacific in January 2013.
Under Michel’s leadership, AB InBev outperformed the industry in several key metrics, including growth in volumes and earnings, over five years. During his tenure in China, he oversaw Budweiser’s rapid growth, helping to make China Budweiser’s largest growth market. Michel also championed the creation of The High End business unit, first created in China and the US then expanded to 22 countries around the world during his tenure as Chief Sales Officer. The High End business unit now has more than 5 billion USD in global sales and significant share gains in the premium segment across markets. In addition, he executed a successful new strategy for AB InBev in South Korea, a developed three tier market where we are a leader in the country. Michel is a Brazilian citizen and holds a Degree in Chemical Engineering from Federal University of Santa Catarina and a Master’s Degree in Marketing from Fundação Getulio Vargas, both in Brazil. He has also completed post-graduate programs in Marketing and Marketing Strategy from the Kellogg School of Management and Wharton Business School in the United States. English, Dutch and French versions of this press release will be available on www.ab-inbev.com.
About Anheuser-Busch InBev
Anheuser-Busch InBev is a publicly traded company (Euronext: ABI) based in Leuven, Belgium, with secondary listings on the Mexico (MEXBOL: ANB) and South Africa (JSE: ANH) stock exchanges and with American Depositary Receipts on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: BUD). Our Dream is to bring people together for a better world. Beer, the original social network, has been bringing people together for thousands of years. We are committed to building great brands that stand the test of time and to brewing the best beers using the finest natural ingredients. Our diverse portfolio of well over 500 beer brands includes global brands Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois; multi-country brands Beck’s, Castle, Castle Lite, Hoegaarden and Leffe; and local champions such as Aguila, Antarctica,
Bud Light, Brahma, Cass, Chernigivske, Cristal, Harbin, Jupiler, Klinskoye, Michelob Ultra, Modelo Especial, Quilmes, Victoria, Sedrin, Sibirskaya Korona and Skol. Our brewing heritage dates back more than 600 years, spanning continents and generations. From our European roots at the Den Hoorn brewery in Leuven, Belgium. To the pioneering spirit of the Anheuser & Co brewery in St. Louis, US. To the creation of the Castle Brewery in South Africa during the Johannesburg gold rush. To Bohemia, the first brewery in Brazil. Geographically diversified with a balanced exposure to developed and developing markets, we leverage the collective strengths of approximately 200 000 employees based
in more than 50 countries worldwide. For 2016, AB InBev’s reported revenue was 45.5 billion USD (excluding JVs and associates).Visit us @ www.ab-inbev.com
New Appointments to our Leadership Team
ST. LOUIS, MO (Nov. 13, 2017) – Today, we are pleased to share the news of several new appointments to our North American leadership team.
Brendan Whitworth has been appointed as VP of Sales. Brendan is a recognized commercial leader who brings a deep understanding of US consumers and a proven ability to drive topline growth. He has most recently been leading our trade marketing, category and sales technology efforts in the US. Previously, Brendan led our Northeast Region and drove share growth on top brands and in key channels. Brendan initially joined our global team after a five-year career at PepsiCo. He also spent eight years serving our country in the US Marine Corps and Central Intelligence Agency.
Bob Tallett will continue as our VP of Business and Wholesaler Development and will now report directly to Michel Doukeris. Elevating Bob’s role continues A-B’s focus on strengthening our partnership with our wholesaler network. A 40-year veteran of Anheuser-Busch, he has incredible insight into the US market and there isn’t a more dedicated or respected “Bud Man” than Bob. A great leader and team builder, Bob has been instrumental in developing our Win Together platform with our wholesalers.
Agostino De Gasperis has been appointed our VP of People (Human Resources). Ago has been with us for 15 years, most recently as our VP of People in Canada. Under his leadership, Labatt has been recognized as one of Canada’s top employers for five consecutive years. Our current VP of People, Sandro Bassili, is taking on a new role within our global innovation platform, ZX Ventures. Sandro transformed our North American People organization, where he led the creation of our New York Commercial Strategy Office, launched major Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, and increased employee engagement scores.
Fued Sadala, our current VP of Logistics and Procurement, will become fully dedicated to Logistics going forward as VP of Logistics. Fued, who has been with us for 22 years, has been instrumental in driving procurement transformation across our global business, including the creation of our Global Procurement Office in Leuven, to deliver significant value. He previously led our technology team in North America, adding North American services into our Global Capability Center. Fued began leading Logistics earlier this Year.
Ingrid De Ryck has been appointed VP of Procurement and Sustainability. Her appointment as our senior leader focused on sustainability underscores our dedication to sustainability in all areas of our business. Ingrid has been with us for 16 years, most recently leading packaging procurement for the North American Zone. During this time, Ingrid has been responsible for the development of strategic sourcing within the Zone. Prior to this role, she was part of our Global Procurement Office, centralizing secondary packaging categories and re-designing global supply markets.
After 13 years with our company, our current VP of Sales, Alex Medicis, has made the personal decision to step down and pursue other interests. He started with us in our Latin America North Zone. Starting in mergers and acquisitions, he quickly rose up the ranks, leading our business unit in the Caribbean and Central America and overseeing sales in Brazil with strong results. We wish Alex all the best for the future.
“Our success starts with listening to our consumers and working with our partners. I am pleased to recognize these great leaders who bring important experiences and insights to our leadership team. This team will deliver on our commitment to American brewing, embrace innovation across our portfolio, and always deliver the best beer to our consumers. Working together, we will begin the next chapter for our company,” said Michel Doukeris, incoming Zone President North America and CEO of Anheuser-Busch.
The transition into these new roles will start immediately and will be effective as of January 1, 2018.
We congratulate Ago, Sandro, Fued, Ingrid, Brendan and Bob on their new appointments and look forward to them continuing their incredible careers with our company.
For more than 160 years, Anheuser-Busch and its world-class brewmasters have carried on a legacy of brewing America’s most popular beers. Starting with the finest ingredients sourced from Anheuser-Busch’s family of growers, every batch is crafted using the same exacting standards and time-honored traditions passed down through generations of proud Anheuser-Busch brewmasters and employees. Anheuser-Busch owns and operates 21 breweries, 21 distributorships and 22 agricultural and packaging facilities, employing more than 18,000 people across the United States. For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com.