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Drinks

AB InBev Chief Executive Announces Departure After 15 Years At Helm

The chief executive of Anheuser-Busch InBev, Carlos Brito, is stepping down from the retailer in July, after 15 years leading the world's biggest brewer.

In a statement, the Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois parent sad that its board had unanimously elected Michel Doukeris, the head of the group's North American business, to succeed fellow Brazilian Brito, the architect of AB InBev's global expansion, from July 1.

“We are grateful to Brito for his tremendous service and leadership,” commented AB InBev board chairman Martin Barrington.

“Among his many accomplishments, Brito was the architect who led and built AB InBev into the world’s leading beer company and a leading global consumer packaged goods company by masterfully integrating the many businesses that comprise AB InBev today. He has always been a role model of the company’s successful ownership culture."

Barrington added that Doukeris was ideally suited for the company's next phase with his expertise in brands, consumers and innovation. The next phase could be focused on boosting sales of over 500 brands than on acquisitions in an already concentrated brewing market.

AB InBev Performance

The brewer separately reported first-quarter earnings ahead of expectations, even with lockdowns closing hospitality in much of Europe and a one-month alcohol sales ban in South Africa.

Sales of beer surged 64% in Asia-Pacific, a year on from the initial coronavirus lockdown in China, a major AB InBev market.

They were also up by more than 10% in Latin America, outperforming industry growth in two of its top markets, Brazil and Mexico. In Europe, sales of its own beers were flat.

"Our business is off to a very strong start in 2021," commented Brito, adding that the brewer "delivered top-line ahead of pre-pandemic levels".

Core profit (EBIDTA) rose 14.2% on a like-for-like basis and removing the impact of currency translation to $4.27 billion, stronger than the 6.6% expansion average forecast in a company-compiled poll.

This figure should increase by between 8% and 12% in 2021, with revenue growth greater than that, based on higher beer sales, price hikes and a shift in consumer taste to premium brands, AB InBev said.

News by Reuters, additional reporting by ESM. For more Drinks news, click here. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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