Netherlands: Heineken’s Chief Commercial Officer Quits His Job After Only Three Years

Heineken N.V. announced that James Thompson, Heineken's Chief Commercial Officer, will leave his position after only three years on the job. According to a company statement, he will retire from full-time executive work on 31 December 2023. Having turned 60 earlier in the year, Thompson has decided it is the right time to step back from his executive role, the company said in the statement. His last day as Chief Commercial Officer will be 31 August 2023, after which he will remain as an advisor to the Executive Board until the end of the year to ensure a smooth transition.

Thompson joined Heineken in early 2021. He replaced industry veteran Jan Derck van Karnebeek who left Heineken after 27 years including five years as Chief Commercial Officer and almost nine years as an Executive Team member. Contrary to the usual practice at Heineken, Thompson came from outside and did not work his way up in the Heineken hierarchy. (, 20.11.2020)

Thompson will be replaced by Bram Westenbrink who will assume the position as new Chief Commercial Officer from 1 September 2023. Westenbrink has been an integral part of Heineken since 2003 and has held several key positions within the organization.

His most recent role was as Senior Director Global Heineken and Amstel Brands, which he assumed in July 2020. Under Westenbrink 's leadership, the Heineken brand experienced a remarkable 32% growth, with over 50 markets witnessing double-digit growth in 2022. Heineken 0.0, the alcohol-free variant, has now been successfully launched in more than 110 markets, while Heineken Silver achieved impressive volume growth and is set to expand to 42 markets across Asia, Europe, and the Americas by the year's end. Additionally, the brand received 20 prestigious Cannes Lions awards, and its sponsorship of Formula 1 was extended until 2027.

Between 2017 and 2020, Westenbrink was Senior Marketing Director of Heineken Brazil. He played an important role in the integration of the Kirin Brazil business and the success of the new company. He developed a winning portfolio strategy, and built a high-performing marketing team, working hand in hand with Sales to successfully execute the new commercial strategy. Together with his team, he dramatically grew premium and accelerated Heineken, making Brazil the No.1 Heineken brand market delivering strong profit growth for the business.

After joining the Heineken Netherlands business as a trainee, he took his next assignment in Singapore as a business analyst, before returning to the Netherlands taking on a number of increasingly senior brand marketing roles. He then moved into a senior sales role as Regional Director for On-trade and Wholesale, where he restructured the business by creating regional teams organised around customers resulting in significant improved performance.

He was appointed as Marketing Director of Heineken Hungary in 2010 and subsequently returned to Heineken Netherlands as Marketing Director in 2013. Under his leadership he brought the main lager brands Heineken, Amstel and Brand back to growth and significantly accelerated the innovation agenda.

Dolf van den Brink, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board, commented: “Bram is one of our most experienced home-grown Commercial Leaders, with strong business acumen and international experience across developed and developing markets. I am confident that with his excellent track record in delivering results through outstanding consumer centric marketing & innovation, data-driven commercial execution and demonstrated ability in building and mobilising high performing teams he will accelerate the commercial implementation of our EverGreen strategy and deliver superior balanced growth. He will be a great addition to our Executive Team.”

Earlier this month, Heineken also announced that Stacey Tank, Chief Transformation and Corporate Affairs Officer at Heineken, has decided to leave the copany to re-join her family who moved to the United States a year ago due to the illness of one of her children. Her last day in the business will be 4 August 2023.

Tank will be replaced by Joanna Price as Chief Corporate Affairs Officer from 1 July 2023. Price will join Heineken's Executive Team, reporting to Dolf van den Brink. Her role as Chief Corporate Affairs Officer encompasses the areas of Government Affairs and Public Policy, Sustainable Development and Global Communications.

Price joins Heineken from The Coca-Cola Company where she was the North American Senior Vice President for Public Affairs, Communications and Sustainability, based in Atlanta, Georgia. An Australian citizen, she started her career in marketing in News Corp Australia followed by AC Nielsen. She joined Kellogg’s in 1998 and was promoted to Director of Nutrition and Consumer Insight.

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