Brendan Whitworth takes charge of Anheuser-Busch as strategy beyond beer intensifies

USA – World’s largest brewing company AB InBev has appointed Brendan Whitworth as president of its North America operations and CEO of its Anheuser-Busch division, effective July 1. 

Whitworth’s succeeds Michel Doukeris, who has moved to AB InBev headquaters in Belgium to assume his new role as global CEO of the group. 

Prior to his appointment, Whitworth was the company’s U.S. chief sales officer and has held various commercial leadership positions in the U.S. for the last 8 years.  

Prior to joining AB InBev, Whitworth held a series of leadership roles at PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay unit, giving him additional insight into the CPG space and working with retailers. 

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In a release, AB InBev noted Whitworth’s leadership skills, strong customer relationships, and assistance in improving the company’s financial results and momentum for some of its products.  

He is reported to have played a role in growing Michelob Ultra, Anheuser Busch’s higher-priced, low-calorie beer while at the same time helping the brewer capture more than US$1 billion in sales of products beyond beer.

Whitworth’s stint at Anheuser Bush also saw him lead the implementation of Anheuser-Busch’s e-commerce platforms, an area that will become even more important going forward. 

“Over the last four years, Brendan has helped to shape and drive our 10-year commercial strategy. His market insights, consumer-first mindset, and strong leadership have been invaluable assets on our journey to lead industry growth,” said Michel Doukeris, incoming CEO of AB InBev.  

“With his deep roots in the U.S., his experience partnering with our wholesaler and retail customers, and his ability to inspire the North America team, I am confident Brendan is the right leader to accelerate our momentum in the U.S. and Canada.” 

Whitworth’s appointment to the top post in North America comes as AB InBev is aggressively venturing into premium offerings and hard seltzers as consumers look for other alcohol options beyond beer.  

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This strategy is aimed at enticing Americans — most notably younger consumers such as millennials and Gen Zers — who are drinking less alcohol or skipping it altogether.   

That responsibility of shifting the brewer into premium beverages and the popular hard seltzer category will now squarely lie with Whitworth. 

While he hasn’t been with the beer maker as long, he is intricately familiar with its operations, especially in the U.S., and should be able to seamlessly transition into his new role immediately.  

His success as the U.S. chief sales officer for Anheuser-Busch also make him the perfect candidate for the company’s top role in North America even as it navigates a rapidly changing business environment.  

Whitworth’s appointment follows the release of AB InBev first-quarter profit and sales where it topped market forecasts. 

Revenue for the beer maker increased 17% to US$12.29 billion, and net profit improved to US$595 million compared to a loss of $2.25 billion in the same period in 2020.  

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