7 IBECOR IN BRUSSELS: AN IMPORTANT LINK IN CONTACTS WITH AFRICA Suitcase pack for Heineken cans in the United States Farewell to V. DeMichele In a tall office block on the Chaussée de la Hulpe in Brussels the fourth floor is reserved for Ibecor, a Heineken subsidiary which is still relatively unknown. But Ibecor has been playing a very important role in Heineken's activities in Africa, particularly in recent years. The 25 employees of Ibecor (International Beverages Corporation) form a sort of intermediate station between a number of African breweries and the Heineken head office in Amsterdam. Strong ties Primus Adaptation Ibecor has existed for many years and used to serve solely as the central accounting and buying office for a number of Heineken breweries in Africa. In those years Ibecor was 50% Heineken-owned. This situation changed in the final quarter of 1982. Heineken then also acquired the remaining 50% and Ibecor became a wholly owned subsidiary. From that moment Ibecor's function changed: apart from handling the buying and the accounting, the Brussels office was used more and more as a "buffer" between head office and the African breweries. "Basically, we have developed from being a buying function into a management service bureau", explains Mr. Siertsema. For more than a year now he has been Ibecor's general manager. "We provide support to our Heineken breweries in Zaïre, Rwanda, Burundi, lie de la Réunion, Angola and Congo Brazzaville in the areas of marketing, finance, engineering and technology, as well as in personnel affairs and legal and tax matters. We're also closely involved in advising on and discussing the operational plans of the various breweries", adds M. Lohman. He holds the post of marketing manager at Ibecor. Heineken has opted to maintain Ibecor's headquarters in Brussels. "Zaïre, Burundi and Rwanda were formerly Belgian colonies. Despite the fact that these countries have long gained their independence, they still have strong ties with Belgium. Businessmen and the authorities in those countries still feel an affinity with Belgium. So, if they come to Europe, they choose Brussels as their base", explains Mr. Lohman. Heineken also has interests in other African countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone andTchad. Ibecor has no involvement with those countries. "In those countries Heineken has no wholly owned subsidiaries, but co-operation agreements with UAC. But there is some interchange with the Ibecor breweries. A training school is established in Kinshasa and serves all the Ibecor businesses. It makes use of the know-how built up in Nigeria, which has a very long traditional focus on training and education", says Mr. From 20 to 23 October last year an extensive round of farewell parties took place in Holland for Vincent DeMichele, Vice-president Traffic of Van Munching Coour U. Simporter of HeinekenAmstel Light and Grizzly. Mr. DeMichele was leaving because he had reached retirement age.The visiting U.S. group, which also included Mr. and Mrs. Van Munching, dropped in on a number of Dutch towns so that as many business friends as possible could shake hands with Mr. and Mrs. DeMichele.There was a visit to the port of Rotterdam for a farewell reception with Mr. DeMichele's many contacts in the shipping and forwarding world .Visits were also made to the Heineken breweries in Zoeterwoude and 's-Hertogenbosch. At the front entrance of the brewery in 's-Hertogenbosch the Heineken Brass Band paid a musical tribute to Mr. DeMichele.The Heineken Brass Band mascot, billy-goat Leo, named after Mr. Van Munching, obviously also got in on the picture. Kool, Ibecor's technical manager. In four of the six "Ibecor" countries the Primus beer brand has been tremendously important for some thirty yearsEspecially in recent years competition has been fierce. This means, for instance, that the Bralima brewery could no longer gear its policy solely to production but had to concentrate more on the consumer, on distribution and on the market in general. Ibecor supports and advises Bralima and other Ibecor breweries on this change of approach. Part of this new approach involves the launch of Mützig in Zaïre and Rwanda, and of Amstel in Burundi, lie de la Réunion and Congo Brazzaville, with the aim of gaining market share. Managing a business in Africa is not comparable to the way of working in Europe. "You have to adapt your management to fit in with the ways of that continent; the entire way of doing business is different from in Europe In Africa you've also got the phenomenon of 'integrated breweries': the production of crates, crown corks, cans and bottles is all handled by the brewery itself. A lot of attention is also paid to the use of local raw materials in the brewing process and to the processing of spent grains. Such a set-up is inconceivable in Europe", says Mr. Siersema. Apart from these initiatives for the Ibecor businesses, the buying function remains an important aspect of the service. Cans of Heineken packed in a handy little suitcase were recently introduced on the U.S. market. American breweries had been selling their canned beers in such a suitcase pack for quite some time. But Heineken is the first imported beer to be marketed in such a pack in America. In the United States Heineken has a national distribution network which concentrates on the hotels, restaurants and catering trade.To continue its growth in that vast country, more attention needs to be paid to sales of Heineken in the take- home market. The suitcase pack has been introduced as the optimum way of meeting the needs of home consumers. In the autumn of last year the first batch of suitcase packs was shipped over to the United States. However, Heineken's existing can pack in the United States - the shrink- wrapped tray - will still remain available. iisfc jfTgr I The Grand-Place in the very heart of Brussels. Belgium's former colonies in Africa still feel a bond with the mother country.

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Heineken International Magazine | 1987 | | pagina 7