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.
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
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
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.