AB InBev has laid off 380 employees, which is 90% of its High End Beer Division sales force. According to Alex Medicis, Vice President of Sales for AB InBev North America, the world’s largest beer maker is “rethinking the business model surrounding the High End, centering more on efficiency.”
Felipe Szpigel, president of High End Beer Division, explained that he believed in the past that his corporately branded salesforce could be perceived as more removed from consumers than the brewery reps themselves, but this proved wrong. The High End sales force essentially was redundant. Every brewery had its own salesforce which retained localized oversight of their product, even if it’s brewed in various corporate facilities across America.
He also said that AB InBev will focus in future more on a consolidation of the business rather than buying additional craft breweries. “Our plate’s full,” he said. “We have 10 amazing craft partners. Our focus is going to be organic.”
AB InBev acquired in the last 6 years a well balanced portfolio of craft breweries. These include 10 breweries in the United States, which are part of AB InBev’s High End division and several others overseas. In detail, the investments in the US were: Goose Island Brewing, Chicago/Illinois (March 2011); Blue Point Brewing, Long Island/New York (Feb. 2014); 10 Barrel Brewing, Boise/Oregon (Nov. 2014); Elysian Brewing, Seattle/Washington (Jan. 2015); Golden Road Brewing, Los Angeles/California (Sept. 2015); Breckenridge Brewing, Denver/Colorado (Dec. 2015); Four Peaks Brewing, Tempe/Arizona (Dec. 2015); Devils Backbone Brewing, Roseland/Virginia (Apr. 2016); Karbach Brewing, Houston/Texas (Nov. 2016, Texas) ; and Wicked Weed Brewing, Asheville/ North Carolina (May 2017) (inside.beer, 4.5.2017).
In addition AB InBev bought important craft beer breweries outside of the United States through its local subsidiaries and lately through its venture capital arm ZX Ventures. These included among others: Bogota Beer Company, Bogotá/Colombia (Feb. 2015, through Ambev), Cervejaria Wäls, Belo Horizonte/Brazil (May 2015, through Ambev); Cervejaria Colorado, Columbia (Jul. 2015, through Ambev), Mills Street Brewery, Toronto/Canada (Oct. 2015, through Labatt Breweries of Canada), Cervecería Tijuana, Tijuana/Mexico (Aug. 2015, through Grupo Modelo); Cervecería Mexicana, Tecate/Mexico (Aug. 2015, through Grupo Modelo); Cervecería de Baja California (Cucapá), Mexicali/Mexico (Aug. 2015, through Grupo Modelo); Cervecería Bocanegra Mexico (Aug. 2015, through Grupo Modelo)); Camden Town Brewery, London/UK (Dec. 2015, through ZX Ventures); Microbrasserie Archibald, Quebec/Canada (Apr. 2016, through Labatt Breweries of Canada), Birra del Borgo, Rome/Italy (Apr. 2016, through ZX Ventures); Brouwerij Bosteels, Buggenhout/Belgium (Sep. 2016, through ZX Ventures, inside.beer, 9.9.2016); La Virgen, Madrid/Spain (Jan. 2017, through ZX Ventures) (inside.beer, 12.1.2017) and Boxing Cat Brewery, Shanghai/China (Mar. 2017, through ZX Ventures, inside.beer, 4.3.2017)