People Moves: Bill Hackett Retires; Crook & Marker Hires Ex-Bai President

Bill Hackett Retires From Constellation Brands

After more than three decades in the beer business, Constellation Brands chairman of beer Bill Hackett announced his retirement earlier this week during the company’s annual distributor conference.

In an email to Brewbound, Constellation Brands spokesman Mike McGrew confirmed Hackett’s retirement, effective March 1, adding that the longtime beer executive would now serve as a consultant for the company “as needed going forward.”

“As Bill said at our annual distributor meeting, this business and our company will always be in his blood and soul,” McGrew, who was recently named Constellation’s senior vice president of communications, wrote. “He laid the foundation and helped build an industry leading company. The rest of our team is well-positioned and committed to continuing to raise the bar going forward.”

Since the mid-1980s, Hackett helped grow sales of Mexican import brand Corona. Last year, off-premise sales of Corona Extra topped $1.7 billion, according to market research firm IRI. Meanwhile, Constellation Brands, which manufacturers and distributes the popular Modelo and Corona Mexican import labels in the U.S., as well as craft beers from Ballast Point, Funky Buddha and Four Corners, was the third largest beer company in the nation in 2018, with dollar sales of $4.6 billion in off-premise retailers, IRI reported.

Hackett discussed the strategies that helped Corona flourish in the U.S., as well as his long career in the industry, with Brewbound editor Chris Furnari during episode 8 of the Brewbound Podcast. Listen to that episode below.

Crook & Marker Hires Former Bai President

Crook & Marker founder and CEO Ben Weiss is leaning on familiar face to help lead his new “spiked and sparkling” alcoholic beverage company.

The former founder of Bai Antioxidant Beverages has tapped Ken Kurtz, who most recently served as the non-alcoholic beverage company’s president, for a similar role with the alcohol startup.

“Ken is a superstar known throughout the beverage industry for his brand-building acumen, his incomparable work ethic and the deep respect he has earned from colleagues, employees and business partners,” Weiss said in a press release.

Kurtz worked for nine years at Bai, which was acquired by Keurig Dr. Pepper in 2016 for $1.7 billion, serving as its president since 2013. Before joining Bai, he was senior vice president of Fiji Water and held sales leadership positions at Boston Beer Company and E & J Gallo Winery.

Kurtz will work with Weiss and Crook & Marker’s leadership team — which also includes former Heineken chief sales officer Ray Faust — to help inform the strategic direction of the business, set growth targets and build the company’s staff, the company said in the release.

“I look forward to working alongside Ben and my new colleagues to build this extraordinary brand,” Kurtz said via the release. “After more than two decades of building beverage brands, I can say that Crook & Marker is extremely well positioned to have a major impact on the alcohol beverage space.”

Crook & Marker — a zero sugar drink in eight fruit flavors — will roll out nationally in the spring in Target, Kroger, Whole Foods, Giant Eagle and Harris Teeter stores, among others.

Olivier Goudet to Resign From ABI’s Board of Directors

Anheuser-Busch InBev chairman Olivier Goudet will step down following the company’s April 24 shareholders meeting, a company spokesperson told Brewbound.

In a statement released to media outlets, Goudet, who has served on the board for eight years, four of which he’s served as chairman, confirmed his imminent departure in order to devote more time to his “growing responsibilities” as managing partner and CEO of JAB Holdings Company, which owns Keurig Dr. Pepper, Krispy Kreme, Caribou Coffee and other consumer product goods companies.

“I have been privileged to serve on the board for eight years and as chairman for the past four years,” he said. “Since I joined the board, I have been very impressed by the quality of the company’s management and I have tremendous confidence in the future our business,” he said.

In a statement, ABI said it was “grateful” for Goudet’s “contributions and commitment” to the company. The spokesperson added that the company has been developing a succession plan since last year, and a successor and new board members are expected to be announced at its annual shareholders meeting.

Goudet is exiting ABI, the world’s largest beer manufacturer, as its U.S. volumes continue to decline. During an earnings call last week, ABI reported global revenue growth of 4.8 percent — to more than $54.6 billion last year. Nevertheless, the company’s domestic revenue declined 0.7 percent, while sales-to-retailers and sales-to-wholesalers declined 2.6 and 2.7 percent, respectively.

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