Blog: Chris Brook-CarterRaising a glass

Chris Brook-Carter | 29 August 2003

On Wednesday night, at the Wellington Club in London, Interbrew UK held an informal farewell party for its boss Stewart Gilliland - who is crossing the Atlantic to take up the position of Zone President Canada – and the trade press who have got so used to quoting him (and misquoting him now and then he claims) over the last few years.
Stewart was one of the first people I interviewed as editor of just-drinks and, along with many other journalists I have spoken to, I have always found him an engaging and passionate speaker on the beer industry.
His position as head of Interbrew UK was always going to thrust him to the front of industry affairs, but he has used that leadership position to become something of a standard bearer for the UK beer market, particularly in his battle to drive quality and improve the category’s image.
The man charged with filling those shoes is Steve Cahillane, who comes fresh from leading Interbrew’s US division, Labatt USA, to new heights, including doubling Stella volumes in the country for the last two years.
However, the UK market is an altogether different and tougher animal to the US imported beer market and it will be interesting to see how a man used to running a developing, but high growth business deals with the stagnant and deeply competitive environment in the UK.
Some then may question the wisdom of appointing an “outsider” to so demanding a position. But Steve Cahillane was both candid on the night about the challenges ahead and apparently keen to continue Gilliland’s efforts to raise the profile of beer in this country. His fresh perspective from across the Atlantic, where, he says, the UK is viewed as the home of beer, may also prove a bonus, as will a stint in Europe already with that original school of hard knocks E&J Gallo.

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