The world’s leading beer group, AB InBev, still strongly rooted in Belgium, does not proclaim a mission, but a dream. It is a dream that is anything but modest: being the Best Beer Company Bringing People together for a Better World. This is not simply a slogan, says CEO Carlos Brito, it is our common reason for existence. "Our company is built on three main elements: an ambitious dream, the best people and an ownership culture. Those are the foundations of our success. They drive us in everything we do. We believe that dreaming big takes just as much energy as dreaming small."
Becoming the best is a continuous challenge, Brito says. "The definition of best beer company is always evolving. Therefore we constantly have to bridge the gap between the company we are and the company we want to be. A business that just wants to survive, does not face this challenge. Survival is its only goal."
The second part of AB InBev's dream has a social dimension: bringing people together. "Beer was the first social network", Carlos Brito notes. "People enjoy our products on many different occasions and in many different locations, at dinner parties, on a night out, while socializing with friends and family… Understanding what unites people, from sports to music, and making those occasions even better, is at the heart of our business. Just think of the fantastic Jupiler campaign we launched in Belgium during last year's football World Championship."
And the 'better world' part? It means promoting responsible beer consumption, reducing our environmental impact and improving societies. Carlos Brito offers a concrete example: "Last year we trained more than 1 million publicans, waiters and store salespeople worldwide, teaching them to sell and serve our products in a responsible manner."
AB InBev's dream is translated into a unique company culture. "People thrive in a culture based on ownership, meritocracy and informality", Carlos Brito explains. "It’s not just a job, it has to be a passion. That is a crucial mind-set. It’s also one of our selection criteria. You could compare our employees with top athletes: the dream is big, talent is scarce, selection is strict, sacrifices are plentiful. But all of that ultimately makes the difference."
Doing better business together
With the 92 billion euro SABMiller take-over, AB InBev has become one of the leading consumer product companies in the world. The brewery group now operates in practically all large beer markets. "We are convinced that together we can realize even more and do bigger and better things", Carlos Brito says. "There is of course much to be done. But we hope to close the deal in the second half of 2016."
This is not the first time AB InBev has integrated with former competitors. "We are always looking for opportunities to learn from one another and optimize our business", Carlos Brito explains. "For instance, Budweiser's very strict quality procedures have become our global standard after the take-over of Anheuser-Busch. We also leveraged Grupo Modelo's expertise in constructing a global premium brand like Corona."
Is the take-over era nearing its end? Will the focus shift to organic growth? "We spend 99% of our time on our core business: developing new products, expanding our brands, offering people opportunities. Organic growth is our main focus", Brito says. "But of course we remain alert to new markets or new brands, allowing us to offer consumers an even larger choice and to promote the worldwide availability of our beers."
This article has been compiled from previous talks by and recent interviews with Carlos Brito. For more information about the SABMiller transaction: www.globalbrewer.com