HEINEKEN appoints new Chief Commercial Officer

11-Jul-2023 - Netherlands
Heineken

James & Bram

Heineken announces that James Thompson, Chief Commercial Officer, will leave HEINEKEN on 31 December 2023. After turning 60 earlier this year, James has decided now is the time to retire from full-time executive work. His last day as Chief Commercial Officer will be 31 August 2023, and he will stay on through the transition period as an advisor to the Executive Board until the end of the year. Bram Westenbrink, will succeed James in the Executive Team as HEINEKEN’s new Chief Commercial Officer from 1 September 2023, reporting to Dolf van den Brink, HEINEKEN’s CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board. 

James Thompson
James joined HEINEKEN in early 2021 at a crucial stage of our EverGreen transformation to help us shape our growth and innovation strategy. He brought considerable external experience and expertise from a nearly forty-year commercial career.

Under his leadership, we launched our refreshed consumer demand spaces framework to become more consumer centric, which is now embedded across the business. He has reignited creativity in our brand building to accelerate brand power and kicked-off the first Innovation hubs in Singapore, the USA, Mexico, the Netherlands, and South Africa to build strong expansive innovation pipelines, which will be critical to drive the change in scale and shape of our innovation for delivering our EverGreen dream. He also kick-started a common approach to data-based marketing and sales, including a leading-edge ROI platform.

In this period Heineken® was the most-awarded alcohol brand at Cannes Lions 2023, premium beer grew 15% and we launched eazle - our global eB2B platform growing from €2 billion to €10 billion gross merchandise value.  James has given special focus to talent development and particularly building more diverse and inclusive Sales and Marketing teams. 

Before joining HEINEKEN, James held several senior international leadership roles. At Avon, he was part of the leadership team charged with driving its purpose, commercial, marketing, digital and cultural transformation, including its new campaign “Watch Me Now” and leading global and local collaboration across over 50 markets.

During his time at Diageo, he worked globally and on three continents, including in North America as Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, in Asia Pacific as Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, and as Managing Director, Global Reserve. Prior to Diageo, James spent 10 years at Unilever in various marketing positions.

Dolf van den Brink, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board, commented: “During his time at HEINEKEN, James has brought a strong consumer-centric, creative mindset and expertise from a nearly forty-year commercial career to our business. His focus has been on putting in place strong foundations for us to achieve our dream - to shape the future of beer and beyond to win the hearts of consumers. I would like to express my gratitude to James for his many meaningful contributions to HEINEKEN. I look forward to continuing working with him until the end of the year and then wish him all the best for the future.”

Bram Westenbrink
Bram Westenbrink has been with HEINEKEN since 2003 and has been Senior Director Global Heineken® and Amstel Brands since July 2020. Heineken® is a 55 million hectolitre brand and #1 global beer brand by value. Under his leadership the Heineken® brand has grown 32%, with more than 50 markets growing double-digit in 2022. Heineken® 0.0 is now launched in more than 110 markets and Heineken® Silver more than doubled its volume in 2022 and will be rolled-out to 42 markets across Asia, Europe, and the Americas regions by the end of the year. Heineken® was recognised with 20 Cannes Lions awards this year and extended its sponsorship of Formula 1 until 2027. At the same time there has been real velocity behind the Amstel brand which also grew volume double-digit in more than 15 markets. 

Between 2017 and 2020, Bram was Senior Marketing Director of HEINEKEN Brazil. He played an important role in the integration of the Kirin Brazil business and the success of the new company. He developed a winning portfolio strategy, and built a high-performing marketing team, working hand in hand with Sales to successfully execute the new commercial strategy. Together with his team, he dramatically grew premium and accelerated Heineken®, making Brazil the No.1 Heineken® brand market delivering strong profit growth for the business.

After joining the HEINEKEN Netherlands business as a trainee, he took his next assignment in Singapore as a business analyst, before returning to the Netherlands taking on a number of increasingly senior brand marketing roles. He then moved into a senior sales role as Regional Director for On-trade and Wholesale, where he restructured the business by creating regional teams organised around customers resulting in significant improved performance. 

He was appointed as Marketing Director of HEINEKEN Hungary in 2010 and subsequently returned to HEINEKEN Netherlands as Marketing Director in 2013. Under his leadership he brought the main lager brands Heineken®, Amstel and Brand back to growth and significantly accelerated the innovation agenda.

Dolf van den Brink, CEO and Chairman of the Executive Board, commented: “Bram is one of our most experienced home-grown Commercial Leaders, with strong business acumen and international experience across developed and developing markets. I am confident that with his excellent track record in delivering results through outstanding consumer centric marketing & innovation, data-driven commercial execution and demonstrated ability in building and mobilising high performing teams he will accelerate the commercial implementation of our EverGreen strategy and deliver superior balanced growth. He will be a great addition to our Executive Team.”

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