Brandhouse set for change on top

Gerald Mahinda, the man credited for leading the shake-up of South Africa’s beer and spirits market is taking up a new role within the African ventures of premium alcohol brands trader Diageo.

The Kenyan born, Mahinda, will from July no longer lead Brandhouse Beverages but is moving into a newly created role, MD of Africa Spirits Transformation within Diageo.

Mahinda led Brandhouse’s remarkable penetration of the South African market against SAB which tightly controls this market.

Brandhouse was established in 2004, by Diageo in partnership with Heineken and Namibian Breweries. It is pushing products like Heineken, Windhoek and Amstel which are poised to give SAB a headache. Taking from the Diageo connection, Brandhouse is also big on hard alcoholic drinks. Diageo’s brands include Johnnie Walker, Crown Royal, J&B, Windsor, Buchanan’s and Bushmills whiskies, Smirnoff, Ciroc and Ketel One vodkas, Baileys, Captain Morgan, Jose Cuervo, Tanqueray and Guinness.

Brandhouse Beverages posed as the second largest alcohol company in South Africa. The company said last week, in support of Diageo’s ambitions to accelerate the growth of spirits in Africa, Mahinda will be responsible for embedding optimum supply, sales and marketing solutions in key markets for spirits. “During his three years as MD, Gerald has led brandhouse to gain share in beer and spirits resulting in the business becoming the second largest beverage alcohol company in South Africa”, said Nick Blazquez, Diageo’s President Africa, Turkey, Russia and Eastern Europe.

“The Heineken and Windhoek brands continue to grow from strength to strength and the re-launch of Amstel is a clear success.  Smirnoff has grown to become a c.2 million case brand and Johnnie Walker’s fantastic trajectory will see it easily exceed 500,000 cases in F13. Gerald leaves brandhouse having created a winning organisation and a great platform for future growth”, said Blazquez.

Mahinda’s successor will be Jeff Milliken, who joins brandhouse after having spent five years managing Diageo’s businesses in Venezuela and Colombia.  A British national, Milliken joined Diageo in 1990 from Coopers and Lybrand as a newly qualified chartered accountant. He undertook a variety of finance roles in London, Tokyo, Latin America and Scotland Supply. In 2000 he became Grain Distilling Director in Scotland responsible for the Grain Distilleries, warehouse and blending and latterly maturing inventory management, before moving to Caracas in 2005 to be supply Director for Latin America. “Jeff’s passion for the business and his considerable experience in operating in competitive high growth markets will support the continued strong momentum in brandhouse”, said Blazquez.

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