Red Stripe boss to run Brazilian acquisition

First local at helm of brewer in 3 years

By Julian Richardson Assistant Business Co-ordinator

Friday, August 10, 2012

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Red Stripe will change leadership for the third time in three years, following the appointment of Cedric Blair as head of the beer manufacturer.

Blair, the current supply chain director at Red Stripe, will in September take over as general manager of the brewing giant from Renato Gonzalez, who returns to his native Brazil to lead newly acquired Diageo company Ypioca — Red Stripe is a subsidiary of alcoholic beverage multinational Diageo.

A long-serving employee of Red Stripe, Blair has held roles mostly in Engineering and Operations at the company since 1995. He was seconded in 2005 to Diageo North America, where he worked in the US spirits industry before returning to Red Stripe as supply director in 2010.

"The board and executive team of Red Stripe welcome Mr Blair to his new role and wish him every success," said the company in a statement to the Jamaica Stock Exchange.

Blair will be Red Stripe's first Jamaican boss since Mark McKenzie, who stepped down in 2009 to make way for Alan Barnes. Barnes was subsequently replaced in 2011 by Gonzalez has been credited with turning around the brewery's performance in his only full financial-year at the helm. The company's net profits for the nine months to March 31, 2012 was $757 million, up 70 per cent over the same period last year.

"The board would like to thank Mr Gonzalez for his excellent leadership of the business and the turnaround in performance he has led, along with the executive team at Red Stripe. We wish him every success in his new role," said Red Stripe, which added that it is retaining Gonzalez on the company's board.

Red Stripe under Gonzalez's leadership enjoyed higher domestic profits against the background of greater levels of efficiencies which led to lower costs and greater diversification of its product mix, including increasing sales volumes of beverages with lower alcohol content. The brewing company introduced at least five new beverages during the year, including a trio of flavoured light beers and Talawah, a lager packaged in a 250 ml bottle in the Jamaican colours of black, green and gold to commemorate the country's 50th year of Independence.

What's more is that the firm entered into a head-to-head battle with J Wray & Nephew in the lucrative white overproof rum market, when it introduced its own D&G White Overproof Rum to the local marketplace on July 1.

Prior to his stint at Red Stripe, Gonzalez led customer service at Diageo Amsterdam. Industry sources say the Brazilian's appointment at Ypioca is a huge promotion.

Diageo in July completed a £300-million buyout of Ypióca, a leading premium cachaca brand in Brazil, in the biggest acquisition it has made in the region. The deal included certain production and distribution assets, including a cachaça distillery in Paraipaba, a bottling plant in Fortaleza and a warehouse in São Paulo. Cachaça is a liquor made from fermented sugar cane and is the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage in Brazil.




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