‘Simple dude’ on his way to AB InBev’s throne

25 years after Michel Doukeris started working for AB InBev, the Brazilian is about to succeed CEO Carlos Brito. Doukeris realized Budweiser’s Asian breakthrough and stopped the bleeding in America.


When I started in China, we sold 40 million bins of Budweiser a year. When I left in 2016, there were more than 200 million.

Michel Doukeris

CEO AB InBev North America

Soon he will probably be able to introduce himself to an even larger group of shareholders, analysts and journalists. Doukeris will be proposed as the new group CEO before the annual shareholders’ meeting on April 28, according to Bloomberg news agency. In September, the Financial Times business newspaper reported that current CEO Carlos Brito (60) will be replaced.

China

If it’s true that Doukeris came out on top, that’s no surprise. The Brazilian has worked for AB InBev since 1996. After studying chemistry and marketing in his home country and the US, he joined AB InBev’s Brazilian subsidiary Ambev.

In 2009 he moved to China, where he was crowned head of the entire Asian division three years later. This was due to the success he achieved. “When I started in China, we sold 40 million bins of Budweiser a year. When I left in 2016, there were more than 200 million, ‘he said in New York two years ago. He also played the e-commerce map in Asia, which is benefiting AB InBev during the corona crisis.

Doukeris calls himself a great fan of the American lager. “I was passionate about Budweiser even before I started working at AB InBev,” Doukeris said in 2019. As a youth, he drank Budweiser. ‘That was still a small brand in Brazil at the time.’

Quarter of sales


Last year, Doukeris succeeded in an almost impossible task: to stop the years of market share loss of Budweiser and Bud Light in the US.

After his performance in Asia, Doukeris, his wife Patricia, daughter Valentina and son Vincente were allowed to move to the birthplace of Budweiser. As a North American CEO, he is responsible for a quarter of AB InBev’s sales and profits. He manages 24 breweries and works with 400 distributors.

In the year after his appointment, he visited 32 US states and found that AB InBev had missed the boat here and there. The mass brands Budweiser and Bud Light lost ground. “Consumers are looking for products with a more valuable image,” he said at the analyst meeting two years ago. AB InBev had lost ground with the emergence of other alcoholic beverages and small-scale craft brewers. According to Doukeris, AB InBev offered an insufficient answer. ‘Our approach is outdated and confusing.’

Water with alcohol

He paid more attention to brands with a larger premium image. Last year, Michelob Ultra beer became the most popular beer in the US, after Bud Light. Last year he also succeeded in an almost impossible assignment: to stop the years of loss of market share of Budweiser and Bud Light. In the fourth quarter, the market share even increased again.

Doukeris also avoided that AB InBev missed another new trend, that of hard seltzer. That drink – fruit-flavored water and alcohol – has become popular with American youth over the past two years. In response, AB InBev successfully launched Bud Light Seltzer last year.

After Doukeris has solved the US problems, he may soon try to tame AB InBev’s difficulties – its high debt and stable beer volumes.

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