"This decision has been difficult for me," Mr. Thomas said in a press release today. "However, it has gradually become apparent that the company and I do not share exactly the same perspectives on the business. We have therefore mutually and amicably concluded that this is the best way forward. I know that Heineken USA will continue to enjoy success and I look forward to starting a new stage in my career."
Mr. Thomas will be replaced as president by Don Blaustein, the company's current senior VP-sales.
The news that Mr. Thomas, who spent 12 years at Heineken, is departing Oct. 5 comes shortly after the marketer acknowledged that Heineken Premium Light -- which quickly grew to top-10 import status after a successful launch last year -- would not reach its ambitious second-year sales goals, despite $70 million in planned marketing support, the largest-ever total for an import light beer.
But Mr. Thomas also oversaw the recent signing of a 10-year agreement to import Femsa Cerveza's fast-growing Mexican beer portfolio, including Dos Equis and Tecate Light. And, despite falling short of its lofty sales goal, both Heineken Premium Light and Heineken lager continue to post strong sales gains.
"I am delighted that Don Blaustein has accepted the role of President and CEO, Heineken USA," said Massimo von Wunster, regional president of Heineken Americas. "Don has extensive experience of leading and building successful beer businesses both in the Americas and internationally. Since joining Heineken USA two years ago, Don has had a considerable impact on performance and his experience and knowledge will be invaluable as Heineken USA continues to grow."