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Anheuser-Busch reshuffles executive ranks.

Anheuser Busch has announced a realignment of executives in the Brand Marketing and Wholesale Operations Division, a unit headed by August Busch IV. Mr. Busch is the son of August Busch III, the company's current chairman and chief executive officer, and is expected to eventually succeed his father.

In a brief statement, Busch IV said that the leadership changes are promotions and are meant to "broaden the skills of our senior management...and provide cross-training opportunities."

Within A-B's wholesale operations group, three executives traded jobs. Michael Brooks, vice president of sales, is now vice president of wholesale operations. He will oversee A-B's 20 wholesale distributorships, 13 of which are company-owned and seven are partially owned by the brewery.

Mike Owens will replace Mr. Brooks, with Joe Castellano succeeding Owens as vice president of retail marketing. Castellano was previously vice president of wholesale operations.

Analyst Mark H. Rodman of Beverage Distribution Consultants, Swampscott, MA, said that the choice of Brooks to run wholesale operations indicates that Anheuser is seeking to improve the profitability of its company-owned distributorships.

Mr. Rodman told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that A-B's challenge is to convert market share into greater profits, especially among A-B-owned distributors, as compared to independent wholesalers.

Brooks is well suited for the job, said Mr. Rodman, who called the executive "extremely bright" and "topnotch."

"A-B wants the best talent where the biggest bang is needed," said Rodman.

As A-B's vice-president of sales for the past six years, Brooks oversaw the company's large independent wholesaler network, and worked to enforce A-B's distribution contracts with the company's 800 independent wholesalers. Brooks has been a key figure in the ongoing Mans case.

"His experience as v.p. sales brings with it an intimate knowledge about the patches of geography where Anheuser-Busch wholesalers under-perform and where a branch or two may underperform its independent distributor neighbors," Mr. Rodman noted. "Hence, Brooks' ascension to honcho the branches and the ABICC/Wedco limited partnerships, likely presages A-B's expansion of both the size and number of branches and its limited partnership stakes in distributorships. Given Brooks' past intimate relationship with wholesalers who are most highly regarded if not favored, by St. Louis, it's not beyond imagination to foresee a few territory "swaps" by branches and erstwhile independent wholesalers."

Anheuser also named Bob Lachky, the company's top U.S. brand manager, to the newly created position of v.p of brand management and director-global brand creative.

Bill Finnie, an adjunct professor of marketing at Washington U.'s Olin School of Business, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that adding A-B's international branding operations to Lachky's portfolio indicates that the company may be seeking to ensure its brands project a consistent image and message overseas.
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Title Annotation:Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 18, 2001
Words:452
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