Heineken USA Names Dolf van der Brink President-CEO

New U.S. Exec Inherits Declining Flagship Sales, Growth in Dos Equis and Tecate Brands

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Heineken USA has named Dolf van den Brink president-CEO, plucking an executive whose last post was as commercial director and deputy general manager of Heineken International's subsidiary in the Democratic Republic of Congo to reverse domestic sales declines of the once-hot import beer brand.

Dolf van der Brink
Dolf van der Brink
Mr. van der Brink, 36, succeeds Don Blaustein, who unexpectedly left the company last month, only two years after his predecessor, Andy Thomas, departed in a similarly abrupt fashion. Both departures were widely thought to stem from tensions between the U.S. importer and its Dutch overlords, a long-running theme at Heineken USA. Placing Mr. van den Brink, a Dutch national, at the helm of the U.S. unit would seem to put Heineken USA and Heineken International in better alignment.

While the new chief executive confronts double-digit sales declines this year at flagship brand Heineken lager, he'll also inherit stewardship of several fast-growing, well-marketed brands amid a tough imported-beer market, Dos Equis and Tecate.

Havas' Euro RSCG took over ad duties on Heineken and Heineken Light this summer.

While there are obviously major differences in selling an image brand such as Heineken to consumers in the U.S. vs. those in the Congo, Africa has been an increasingly important growth engine within Heineken and success there has become key to the company's fortunes.

In a statement, Heineken Americas President Jon Nicolson said: "I am delighted to have someone of Dolf's vitality, leadership capability and commercial experience to lead our U.S. business. His track record of growing brands and developing people across both mature and developing markets is outstanding. During his time with [Congo subsidiary] Bralima, in a highly complex operating environment, the company has become one of the fastest growing businesses within the Heineken group. I believe that Dolf's leadership coupled with the strength of the existing management team, brand portfolio and distributor network will be a powerful and successful combination."

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