Preaching wine and drinking water? Chat with EA’s top brewer
Posted Monday, June 25 2012 at 13:58
The man who has been driving East Africa’s biggest brewer does not drink alcohol.
But this, according to him, has not hindered him from navigating East African Breweries (EABL) through its most turbulent times.
“Is there anyone who doesn’t drink? Water is a drink, Alvaro is a drink, and malt is a drink.
“Ultimately, I get to take a drink or two but I’m not really big on alcohol.
“This does not take away the fact that I sell exciting brands that are well established in the region,” Mr Seni Adetu, EABL’s chief executive, says.
Save for the ticking clock, nothing about his stature or office tells you that he will be flying to Nigeria this week to head Guinness Nigeria Plc, Diageo’s biggest business in Africa.
Mr Adetu is leaving EABL just when the market was beginning to adjust to his management style and settling down after the controversial alcohol law that reduced the number of hours bars can operate.
He exudes confidence about his achievements, brewing the company’s profits steadily despite heightened regulation of the beer industry.
“What you see is what you get. I am a very passionate family man.” This is the first thing he says in his office at the company’s headquarters in Ruaraka, Nairobi when asked to describe himself.
Mr Adetu also mentions his strong belief in God at least four times in the first two sentences of the interview.
“I like to build strong relationships. All my life, I have believed that serving God is the foundation for having a good life. I am a family man, married with three lovely kids,” he says.
Mr Adetu maintains that he has left the company at its best, when asked to look back at his brief stint at the helm.
“The profits numbers that we have now are the highest we have had. We have turned around our business in Uganda, which was at some point struggling.
“We have completed a very complex acquisition in Tanzania through the purchase of majority stake in Serengeti Breweries,” he says.
He also names the relaunch of Tusker, setting up a canning line at Kenya Breweries, and putting up packaging infrastructure in Uganda as his other defining moments at the firm.
“I am leaving at a time when EABL is one of the most capitalised businesses at the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE),” he adds.
But it is his being at the centre of a major talent shake-up which saw an increase in the number of senior managers seconded from Diageo that may have defined his management.
The company appointed Tracey Barnes in January as the finance director, Pennefather James (group strategy director) in October, and Abbey Mark as group compliance and ethics director from Diageo.