New MillerCoors Chief Terminates Top Executives

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MillerCoors CEO Gavin Hattersley

Talk about making an entrance.

MillerCoors’ newly appointed interim CEO Gavin Hattersley — who currently serves as both the CFO of Molson Coors and replaced outgoing MillerCoors CEO Tom Long on Wednesday — had been in charge for just 24 hours when he told two of the company’s top executives to hit the bricks.

Announced this morning, chief marketing officer Andy England and Ed McBrien, who had served as the president of sales and distributor operations, have been replaced. MillerCoors has appointed David Kroll – who joined MillerCoors in 2012 as the vice president of innovation and is responsible for the introduction of products like Redd’s Apple Ale and Smith & Forge Hard Cider — as its new CMO, supplanting England. Kevin Doyle, who most recently served as chief commercial solutions officer, replaces McBrien as president of sales and distributor operations.

“We’re not satisfied with our volume performance, so we need to take action to change that dynamic,” Hattersley, who is serving as interim CEO of the SABMiller/Molson Coors joint venture until the company finds a permanent replacement, said in a statement.

McBrien had been with organization for 21 years and England originally joined the organization in 2006, as the CMO of Coors Brewing (prior to the establishment of the JV in 2008).

“Gavin is a decisive leader,” company spokesman Jonathan Stern told Brewbound. “Gavin, our board and our senior leadership have not been satisfied with volume performance for quite a while.”

Indeed, sales of MillerCoors premium and sub-premium offerings — like Miller High Life and Keystone Light — have waned in recent years. Over the last 52 weeks, volume sales for those brands are down 6.4 and 3.3 percent, respectively. In 2014, company-wide volumes declined by more than 1.3 million barrels. Volume declines continued through the first three months of 2015 as well — the company delivered 330,000 fewer barrels compared to the same period last year.

In a statement, Hattersley said he believes the executive shakeup could help curb volume losses.

“As our former head of chain and our current chief commercial solutions officer, Kevin Doyle has a long track record of success and a healthy level of impatience and commitment to sales execution,” he said. “Kevin is an inspiring leader with a deep understanding of the beer business, the current state of retail and the opportunities for our portfolio.”

Volume declines aren’t the only reason why England was ultimately let go, according to the Chicago Business Journal. As the man responsible for leading the 2015 Coors Light branding initiatives, England took the blame for a failed ad campaign that was rejected by MillerCoors distributors and never made the airwaves, noted the website.

“England’s major misstep with MillerCoors’ most valuable brand apparently shook both Hattersley’s and the MillerCoors Board of Directors’ collective confidence in their former chief marketing officer’s ability to get the job done at a crucial moment in the company’s history,” the article notes.

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New MillerCoors CMO David Kroll

 

In the press statement, Kroll, 46, was described by Hattersley as a “decisive leader with marketing experience beyond beer.” Prior to joining MillerCoors, Kroll served as vice president for the vacuum manufacturer Dyson.

Together, Doyle and Kroll will be responsible for executing the company’s strategy of “reinvigorating American light lagers, capturing new growth opportunities and simplifying our economy portfolio and driving innovation while supporting the 3-tier system,” Stern told Brewbound.

In an effort to improve volumes, the pair will continue to “look for white spaces” where the company can introduce new products, Stern said. The company may also look to reduce the number of SKUs in its economy portfolio, he added.

Today’s announcement is the latest in a string of leadership changes over the last year. Last month, Geoff E. Molson, a member of the Molson Coors board of directors, was named as the company’s chairman. The company also named consumer products executive Mary Lynn Ferguson-McHugh to its board of directors in June.

In April, Joe Vanderstelt, the company senior director of finance, left MillerCoors to join Craft Brew Alliance as its new CFO. And last September, MillerCoors named Scott Whitley the new CEO of Tenth & Blake, its craft and import division.

The news comes just two days after the Chicago-based company wheeled out its new corporate branding initiative “We Stand For Beer.” Later that evening, a fire broke out at its Milwaukee production facility because of a grain blower explosion.

That all made for quite a busy first week for Hattersley.