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Asia growth and non-alcoholic beer boosts Heineken’s sales as CEO announces departure

Dutch brewer Heineken’s operating profit rose to €4.02 billion (£3.38bn) last year, outgoing CEO Jean-François van Boxmeer said today, thanks to growth in Asia, and in the low and no-alcohol category.

Jean-François van Boxmeer will retire in June this year after 15 years at the helm of one of the world’s largest brewers. (Photo: WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM/Remy Steinegger/Flickr)

Heineken’s share price rose above 6% when markets opened to €103.80.

Volume sales of beer rose 3.1% to 241.4 million hectolitres for the whole of 2019, with a 4.1% spike in the last three months of the year. Organic beer sales grew 5.6% last year to €23.9 billion, slightly ahead of analysts’ predictions of a 5.1% rise. Operating profits also rose 3.9% to €4.02 billion.

This was largely driven by the growth in Asia, as well as the development of its low and no-alcohol offering. The no-alcohol portfolio grew double digit, it said, driven by Heineken 0.0, and other line extensions. Volume sales of low and no-alcohol drinks, meanwhile, reached 14.1 million hectolitres last year, a 1m hlr increase on 2018.

The brewer’s “craft” brand volumes grew mid-single digit to 5.6 million hectolitres, with a double-digit growth in Europe that made up for lower volumes in the Americas.

Boxmeer also revealed he will retire in June this year and hand over his responsibilities to the head of the brewer’s Asia Pacific business, Dolf van den Brink.

Boxmeer, who joined Heineken in 1984, has been at the helm of the world’s second largest brewer for 15 years. In that time, he oversaw and managed €30 billion worth of acquisitions and investments worldwide.

Van den Brink will, subject to his appointment at the company’s 2020 AGM, join Heineken’s global executive board on 23 April, and work with Boxmeer for a “smooth and effective transition” until he bows out in June.

While most regions enjoyed modest growth, Van den Brink’s division drove the company’s sales in 2019, rising 12% in Asia.

Boxmeer said the Asia Pacific boss’ “ability to lead teams, grow our brands and business, in a responsible way, is nothing short of impressive.

“I am certain that under his leadership the company is in the best of hands to continue to grow. I look forward to work with Dolf in delivering a smooth transition.”

Charlene de Carvalho-Heineken said: “My family and I are deeply grateful to Jean-François for all he has brought to Heineken during his entire career in the company but particularly for his impressive 15 year leadership as CEO.


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