Blog: Olly WehringInBev - UK not OK?

Olly Wehring | 19 February 2008

The announcement today (19 February) of yet another change at the top for InBev’s UK & Ireland unit suggests the global brewer is none too happy with its performance in the region. The replacement of Richard Evans with Stuart MacFarlane as president is the second change at the helm in as many years.

Is this a personality thing? Or is the company demanding improvements yesterday? Word has it that it’s more likely to be the latter. One industry source earlier today described InBev to me as “running scared” in the region. Whether or not things are this extreme – this after all is still one of the world’s global powerhouses – things are far from rosy. And, the continuing changes at the top are doing nothing to ease this sort of specualtion.

In November, Inbev noted that its UK operations saw volumes drop in the third quarter by 8.3% year-on-year. To make matters worse, last month UK pub chain Young’s said it was dropping InBev’s Stella Artois beer brand from its outlets, as the beer “wasn’t premium enough”.

Although I never met Evans, I’m told he’s “a man of integrity”, whose tenure saw the unit “recently turn the corner”, the source told me. “InBev has neither the patience nor the wherewithal to deal with as tough a market as the UK,” I was also told.

Naturally, the brewer is keener to downplay any such suggestions – a spokesperson told me today only that Evans had left the company “by mutual consent”.


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