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Brown-Forman Corp., Louisville, Ky., announced that it will establish a new head office for its European operations in Amsterdam, effective Jan. 1, 2014. The company’s corporate headquarters will remain in Louisville.
The opening of the European head office follows recent activity in the region, including the consolidation of the company’s western Europe and greater European organizations into a single pan-European operation on Jan. 1, 2013. Brown-Forman also created a fully integrated German company in 2010, formed its own distribution company in Turkey in 2012, and will establish a new distribution company in France in January 2014. Furthermore, it owns and operates distribution companies in Poland and the Czech Republic. In total, Europe accounted for 30 percent of Brown-Forman’s total net sales in fiscal-year 2013.
By January, Thomas Hinrichs, senior vice president and managing director of Brown-Forman’s European operations, and other key members of the company’s European leadership team will move to Amsterdam from Hamburg, London, Paris, Prague and Louisville.
Brown-Forman chose Amsterdam as the head office for the company’s recently consolidated European team because it is centrally located with easy access to the rest of Europe and other international markets, said Mark McCallum, executive vice president of Brown-Forman. The Netherlands also provides an excellent business climate and a well-educated and multi-lingual workforce, he added.
“We’ve spent a significant amount of time evaluating how to best structure and where to locate management oversight of this important region so that we can work more effectively and efficiently in driving results that will help Brown-Forman achieve its strategic B-F 150 goals,” McCallum said in a statement. “We believe locating our European leadership team and key functional leaders together in Amsterdam will help this important region sustain its healthy growth rates and contribute more to Brown-Forman’s future prosperity.”
Brown-Forman also will relocate its Finlandia global brand team to Amsterdam from Louisville.
“The growth of our vodka portfolio — and Finlandia in particular — is a vital part of our B-F 150 strategy,” said Lawson Whiting, senior vice president and chief brands officer for Brown-Forman, in a statement. “With more than 80 percent of Finlandia’s business sourced in Europe, it makes sense to put our global Finlandia leaders closer to their largest consumer base and to where the vodka is produced in Finland.”
Carmen d’Ascendis, senior vice president and managing director of Brown-Forman’s vodka business, and other key leaders of the Finlandia global brand team will relocate to Amsterdam from Louisville. Ultimately, the company expects to have approximately 40 employees based in Amsterdam, although it will likely take a few years before that number is achieved, it says.