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THAIS HAVE SWITCHED OVER TO PRE­MIUM AL­CO­HOL AND A VALUE-OVER-VOLUME PLAY SPELLS OP­POR­TU­NITY FOR AL­BERTO IBEAS OF DRINKS GI­ANT DI­A­GEO MOET HEN­NESSY

The Nation - - BIZ PERSONALITY - KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN

AL­BERTO Ibeas, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Di­a­geo Moet Hen­nessy (Thai­land), is fac­ing strong head­winds in lead­ing the global al­co­holic drinks com­pany in Thai­land.

Ibeas says the al­co­hol mar­ket is ex­pected to con­tinue to slow down as a re­sult of eco­nomic pres­sures and a global shift in con­sump­tion in which peo­ple are drink­ing “bet­ter, but not more”. As Thai­land is no ex­cep­tion, he says, this cre­ates an op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote pre­mium drinks and ex­per­i­ment with in­no­va­tion. Ibeas notes that Thai con­sumers are very keen to try new prod­ucts and have em­braced the cock­tail cul­ture.

“Our ambition for Di­a­geo Moet Hen­nessy Thai­land is to be­come the best per­form­ing, most trusted and re­spected con­sumer goods com­pany in Thai­land. To achieve this goal, DMHT promotes a cul­ture of ‘Cel­e­brat­ing Life Ev­ery Day Ev­ery­where by Drink­ing Bet­ter Not More’. This can be in­ter­preted as seek­ing to be the best you can be at work, in so­ci­ety and in the com­mu­ni­ties where we op­er­ate,” Ibeas says.

He took over as man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of DMHT at the start of last year. The Spaniard brought with him 19 years of broad func­tional and re­gional ex­pe­ri­ence to his role at Di­a­geo, where he is fo­cus­ing on driv­ing sus­tain­able busi­ness growth for the com­pany in Thai­land and “de­liv­er­ing ben­e­fits to all stake­hold­ers through clear strate­gies and DMHT in­no­va­tions”, he says.

A grad­u­ate of Univer­si­dad Comer­cial de Deusto in Bil­bao, Spain, and Stock­holm Univer­sity in the Swedish cap­i­tal, Ibeas started his ca­reer in fi­nance de­ci­sion sup­port and later took on fi­nance lead­er­ship roles across Latin Amer­ica and the Caribbean, the An­dean re­gion and in the UK.

He has also held global po­si­tions with Di­a­geo’s trea­sury and group strat­egy teams and in 2014 moved to com­mer­cial roles in his na­tive Spain. In re­cent years, he led the busi­ness on the Ibe­rian penin­sula, with re­spon­si­bil­i­ties for Spain, Por­tu­gal and the Ca­naries.

Un­der his lead­er­ship, the busi­ness has re­turned to growth af­ter many chal­leng­ing years and is once again a key player in the whisky and gin cat­e­gories. He was re­spon­si­ble for shap­ing the next phase of Di­a­geo’s route-to-con­sumer in Ibe­ria, more than dou­bling the com­pany’s cov­er­age and trans­form­ing the ways of work­ing with its whole­sale part­ners.

Ibeas has been de­scribed as a nat­u­ral leader and is known for build­ing and mo­ti­vat­ing highly en­gaged teams, trans­mit­ting to them his pas­sion in work­ing for DMHT. He is also an avid sup­porter of the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties where the com­pany works and was ac­tively in­volved in sus­tain­abil­ity and re­spon­si­bil­ity pro­grammes such as Di­a­geo Learn­ing for Life, which was ap­plied across the Ibe­rian re­gion.

In his spare time, Al­berto en­joys trav­el­ling, mu­sic, sports and read­ing. He is mar­ried and is a proud fa­ther of three.

He says that, in try­ing to do the best he can at work, he wants to in­spire his col­leagues to de­velop in­no­va­tions and new ex­pe­ri­ences in re­sponse to Thai con­sumers’ chang­ing life­style. These changes are typ­i­fied by Thais’ pref­er­ences for pre­mium drinks en­joyed on more re­laxed oc­ca­sions.

“Di­a­geo is the world’s big­gest pre­mium spir­its com­pany. To­gether with our joint ven­ture part­ner in Thai­land, LVMH, we have an unbeatable range of global iconic brands,” he says.

“We be­lieve that de­spite the mar­ket dif­fi­cul­ties and eco­nomic chal­lenges, there are sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­ni­ties for us to of­fer ex­cit­ing cel­e­bra­tory ex­pe­ri­ences to our con­sumers.”

“Some tan­gi­ble ex­am­ples are the launch of our lim­ited edi­tion Johnnie Walker White Walker and the Fire & Ice Malt Whiskies, all in part­ner­ship with glob­ally ac­claimed HBO se­ries Game of Thrones. Also our beau­ti­ful and Ja­pa­nese in­spired Smirnoff ICE Umeshu, the launch of The Sin­gle­ton Malt se­ries (per­fect to pair with spicy food), and many more brands that we will be in­tro­duc­ing in the mar­ket in the months to come.

“Be­ing the best in so­ci­ety and the soon launch our Fire and Ice Malts in part­ner­ship with Game of Thrones. This is a col­lec­tion of seven malts in­spired by the Houses of the glob­ally ac­claimed Game of Thrones se­ries. We will be bring­ing a very lim­ited num­ber of bot­tles into Thai­land, we so sug­gest you rush to get yours.

“This year, and for the first time in Thai­land, we will take our global World Class com­pe­ti­tion to sev­eral cities in Thai­land. This is the best bar­tender com­pe­ti­tion in the world, where thou­sands of bar­tenders glob­ally com­pete to be the best.

“We will have fi­nal­ists from all cor­ners of Thai­land, who will then com­pete to be the Thai rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the global fi­nal that will be cel­e­brated in Glas­gow in Septem­ber. We will, also for the first time in Thai­land, cel­e­brate a cock­tail fes­ti­val in Bangkok at the same time as the Thai World Class fi­nal.”

He says that, from an in­no­va­tion point of view, the com­pany has launched Smirnoff ICE Umeshu, Johnnie Walker White Walker lim­ited edi­tion, and the Sin­gle­ton Malts se­ries.

“These launches were all very suc­cess­fully ex­e­cuted,” he says. “The com­pany will be launch­ing two new prod­ucts in the next cou­ple of months, but we will keep that con­fi­den­tial for now.”

Al­berto Ibeas says he wants to tap a new vibe in Thai­land in which con­sumers in­creas­ingly opt for so­cial set­tings that favour pre­mium drinks en­joyed in re­laxed en­vi­ron­ments. Di­a­geo Moet Hen­nessy is ready­ing some new re­leases that cater to this trend.

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