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Red Stripe boss expects no major shake up after sale

Published:Thursday | October 8, 2015 | 10:00 AMTameka Gordon
Managing director of Red Stripe Jamaica, Cedric Blair.

Red Stripe Jamaica boss, Cedric Blair, says he expects no shifts in production for the Diageo brands produced locally under the deal in which Heineken NV has bought the assets and brand of the favoured Jamaican beer for US$421 million, but cannot speak to what will happen in other markets.

Heineken has bought Diageo's shares in Desnoes & Geddes Limited, the corporate vehicle for Red Stripe, and has also bought other Diageo's brewing stakes in other markets, in an overall US$781 million deal.

Diageo has sold its 57.9 per cent stake in D&G to the Dutch company. Heineken previously owned a 15.5 per cent stake in the Jamaican company, so it now controls 73.3 per cent.

Pressed on the intended positioning of the lines held by Diageo, Blair said he doesn't know just yet what will transpire.

"Heineken is the No. 3 beer company in the world so we expect a lot of continuity. I wouldn't see any impact to production whatsoever in terms of the brands that we produce and sell in Jamaica. I would expect that to continue," Blair said.

But regarding production in the international markets, "I wouldn't be able to answer to that. I don't know yet," said Blair, the brewery's managing director and a member of the company's board.

Red Stripe produces its beer for the United States and United Kingdom markets in those countries.

Heineken will brew Guinness under licence for Diageo and will continue to produce Smirnoff Ice and the other spirit brands, Blair said.

"Heineken has bought Red Stripe and all the D&G brands but for all the Diageo brands, Heineken will produce them for Diageo under licences," he said.

Heineken now brews Guinness for Diageo in a number of other markets, Blair said.

Overall, Blair expects no major shake-up in the Jamaica operation with the sale of the company. Regarding staffing, he said: "I wouldn't see a major impact."

Other sources say Blair was expected to be retained by Heineken but it's unclear whether his position would remain managing director.

tameka.gordon@gleanerjm.com