Heineken sees Africa as 'cornerstone' of its brewer's business, as political stability improves in the continent, middle classes emerge, CEO Jean-Francois van Boxmeer says; company's profits in Africa up fivefold in about eight years

BROMSGROVE, England , May 27, 2011 (press release) – The head of Heineken has told just-drinks.com that he sees Africa as "the cornerstone" of the brewer's business, with strong potential across the continent for both mainstream and premium beer, in an exclusive interview published today.

The brewer, which has been operating in the region for over 70 years, has upped its presence of late in Africa, with a partnership with Diageo in South Africa, and victory in a bidding race for two brewers in Ethiopia.

Speaking exclusively to just-drinks, Heineken's CEO, Jean-Francois van Boxmeer, talked up the potential Africa offers the brewer. "Political stability in the African markets is improving, and the middle classes are emerging -- that is what our business is thriving on," he said.

"Africa won't be left at the side of the road; the rest of the world needs Africa. I see big improvements there, it's the cornerstone of our business. We have been multiplying the profits from our operations in Africa by five in around eight years -- it's one of the biggest growth engines we have.

"What Brazil is for Anheuser-Busch InBev, Africa is for Heineken. Sure, it's smaller than Brazil, but we are also earlier in the growth curve."

Regarding Ethiopia specifically, van Boxmeer conceded that the market was well-suited more to mainstream beer rather than premium brands like Heineken.

"Africa has booming markets for mainstream brands," he said. "However, in some of the markets, premium brands have a sizeable share. South Africa is one of the first of them, along with places like Algeria and Nigeria stepping up to the premium segment. Ethiopia will be more focused on mainstream brands, so you have different stages of maturity."

An exclusive two-part interview with Jean-Francois van Boxmeer appears on just-drinks this week.

Read the full interview here: http://www.just-drinks.com/interview/the-wehring-interview-heineken-part-ii_id103993.aspx

The interview is available for full members of just-drinks.com only. To gain access to this interview along with beverage industry information, insight and intelligence visit: http://www.just-drinks.com/membership.aspx

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