Pabst names Ferrero executive as its new CEO

Dive Brief:

  • Pabst Brewing appointed Paul Chibe to succeed Eugene Kashper as CEO starting Dec. 1, the company said in a statement. Kashper will remain chairman and continue to play an active role in the business.
  • Chibe has more than 30 years growing consumer brands in the U.S. He joins Pabst from Ferrero.
  • Pabst, which has seen a resurgence in recent years, has expanded into cannabis-infused seltzer, hard coffee and low-calorie beers in an effort to broaden its portfolio and tap into current trends. 

Dive Insight:

It was only September when Chibe took over at Ferrero, the maker of Nutella and Ferrero Rocher, as its global president of sugar confectionery and gums. Now in a seemingly abrupt departure, he’s heading to Pabst.

While Pabst has been known for beer since it was established in 1844 in Milwaukee, the company has shown a recent willingness to go beyond its roots and expand its portfolio as consumer tastes change and evolve. In much the same way Chibe worked at Ferrero to integrate deals and modernize many of its brands, he may be charged with taking Pabst and its other beers down a similar road. Pabst’s portfolio also includes Lone Star, Rainier, Old Style, Stag, Stroh’s, and Old Milwaukee. 

“Pabst is a company with huge unrealized potential, and now is an exciting and pivotal time in the company’s history,” Chibe said. “We will unlock the opportunity to build a great future for Pabst through innovation and growth.”

After peaking in the 1970s, Pabst’s namesake PBR lager saw its popularity declining, with sales dipping below a million barrels in 2001. Since then, the brand has seen a resurgence. Chibe will be tasked with maintaining the iconic company’s growth in a competitive alcohol category.

“Pabst achieved healthy top-line growth in 2021 and has many promising opportunities on the horizon,” Kashper said in the statement announcing Chibe’s hiring. “The board is confident that Paul is the right leader for this next chapter of the company’s evolution.”

While at Ferrero, the world’s third-largest confectionery company, most of Chibe’s tenure was spent as president and CEO of the company’s North America division. In its statement announcing the appointment, Pabst noted Chibe was responsible for growing Ferrero’s core business, integrating M&A deals and launching new products in the region.

Chibe led Ferrero as the company purchased Nestlé’s U.S. chocolate business for $2.8 billion, a deal that added more than 20 American candy brands including Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, 100 Grand, SweeTarts and Nerds to its fold. It also doled out $1.3 billion to purchase well-known cookie brands, such as Keebler and Famous Amos, from Kellogg — the Italian company’s first foray into the rapidly growing U.S. snack space.

Chibe’s experience in the CPG space extends beyond Ferrero. He was also the U.S. chief marketing officer for AB InBev, where he launched the Bud Light Platinum and Rita brands. In addition, Chibe spent nearly two decades working at Wrigley, Quaker Oats and Leaf, a confectionery company.

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