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SABMiller chairman Norman Adami to retire

For the first time in nearly five years, SAB has regained its more than 90% share of the local beer market, a success that has been driven by Adami, who is also credited with leading the reversal in fortunes of Miller Brewing Company in the US, which the group acquired in 2002.

“I’m not retiring from life. I’ve got many personal interests and passions that I will now be able to pursue. I will remain active in business in the sense that I’ll get involved with non-executive directorships. I think we now move on to a new era for SABMiller,” Adami said.

Chris Wickham, an analyst at Oriel Securities in London, said that Adami had been “one of the very talented beer professionals of our time. He is very much a beer man.”

Kagiso Asset Management investment analyst Dirk van Vlaanderen said Adami had helped shape the group into its current form.

“More recently, since 2008, we believe he has done a very good job of overseeing a reinvigoration of the rather complacent South African business, which was then under huge pressure following the loss of the Amstel licence to Heineken,” he said.

“His approach to addressing the very real competitive challenges with a long-term and sustainable solution has meant that around R2.6bn in cost savings has been reinvested into the brands and enhanced route-to-market practices. This has resulted in a stronger position in mainstream lager,” Van Vlaanderen said.

“The phenomenal growth of Castle Lite means that the company has more than recouped the 6% market share it lost when the Amstel brand went back to Heineken and it now has a 62% market share in premium beer,” he said.

SABMiller Africa MD Mark Bowman, left, MD SAB beer division Mauricio Leyva, SAB chairman Norman Adami and SABMiller CE Alan Clark at the group’s head office.

The maker of Miller Lite, Grolsch and Peroni said its South African and African regions would be consolidated into one region under Mark Bowman, the MD of SABMiller Africa.

With low per-capita beer consumption and strong economic growth, the continent is becoming a key market for the brewer, already the biggest beer operator in Africa, as the company woos consumers away from low-quality local spirits, providing affordable alternatives such as cassava and sorghum beer.

CE Alan Clark said there was strong potential for profitable growth in both beer and total beverages in Africa, and by harnessing the skills of its South African and African business in a combined Africa region, SABMiller would be better placed to access growth prospects across the entire continent.

Building breweries and bottling facilities, SABMiller expects to spend about $300m to $500m a year on the continent outside of South Africa.

According to Adami, this home-grown success has been his proudest moment during his time at SABMiller.

“On the big decisions our instincts were right and they panned out, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t make any mistakes … sometimes we could have moved faster than we did. But I don’t have any regrets.”

Source: SABMiller, BDLive