Carlos Brito has stepped down as the boss of the world’s largest brewer AB InBev.
The chief executive announced his departure after 15 years in the top role, having led the firm through a transformation from a regional business in Brazil.
AB InBev, which owns brands including Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck’s, said he will be replaced on July 1 by Michel Doukeris, president of the group’s North American business.
The Brazilian’s departure will mark the end of an era at the firm, after exits by former finance chief Felipe Dutra and chairman Olivier Goudet over the past two years.
It comes as the company’s leadership tackles its debt mountain and the heavy impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Brito said: “It has been a privilege and an honour to be part of this team of 164,000 inspirational colleagues around the world.
“I am very excited about the future of our business under Michel’s leadership and congratulate him on the appointment as CEO of this amazing company.”
He added that the company “is off to a very strong start in 2021” as it updated shareholders on trading for the first quarter of the year.
It reported that beer volumes were up 2.8% against the same quarter in 2019, before the impact of the pandemic.
The group told investors that earnings increased by 14.2% year-on-year despite continued Covid disruption.
It said it saw particularly strong retail sales of beer in the UK, Belgium, Italy and France as supermarket trade partly offset the closure of hospitality venues.
William Ryder, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Results are starting to look up at AB InBev, and both revenue and underlying operating profits grew well during the first quarter of 2021.
“We think this tailwind and the favourable comparisons with last year will keep AB InBev “growing” for the next few quarters.
“But as the headline figures may flatter, it’ll be important to keep an eye on brand strength metrics and cost discipline over this period as well.
“Remember, beer consumption had been slowing before the pandemic, so there are headwinds too and AB InBev might not have everything its way.”