Efes Beer Group President Alejandro Jimenez came to Turkey 14 months ago. He is proud of working at Efes, which is the leader of the Turkish beer market with a market share of 85 percent, and of the company’s success in exports. Jimenez says: “Efes is an iconic brand in Turkey. I am proud of myself for working here. We are number one in Moldova and Georgia. And we shall continue to grow rapidly in these regions.”
Efes Beer Group President Alejandro Jimenez began his career in 1973 at Coca Cola. In 1981 he was appointed Coca Cola Regional Director for Central America. Later he served as the company’s Caribbean Regional Director and Marketing Director and Vice President for Latin America. In 1991 he became Panamco Mexico President and CEO. Between 1994-2001 he was president, COO and board chairman at Pamamco, which is the largest Coca Cola bottler in Latin America. And today Jimenez is president of the Efes Beer Group. He came to Turkey 14 months ago. Jimenez states at every opportunity that he is proud to be working at Efes and notes that the company has been very successful both in Turkey and abroad.
Capital spoke with Efes Beer Group President Alejandro Jimenez about Efes, the company’s international investments and its competition strategies.
* What have been the main improvements at Efes in recent years? How did you succeed in achieving this growth? What is the position of Efes in Turkey? Efes is a very successful company. I am proud of being here. We started our international expansion only 10 years ago. Today, in terms of volume, the international part of our business is bigger than the Turkish business. It only happened in the last 10 years. First we moved to Kazakhstan and then to Russia, Moldova, Georgia etc. So it is growing rapidly. We are very proud of our international expansion.
* What is the most important development that you have seen in the company? We really became a multinational company during the last 10 years. In Turkey, we have very good people. They know how to create value, how to operate. At the same time, they are also very good at developing local people. So this has been a very successful combination. Also we have lots of focus. We are a very focused company. Yes, we have expanded internationally but we have expanded in selected countries. So wherever we go, we have an impact. That’s our philosophy.
* So what you mean by saying “focused”? For example, geographically. It implies that we are concentrated in CIS countries. Through that focus, we would rather be relevant in the countries in which we operate rather than irrelevant in many countries. You can be present in very many countries and be irrelevant in those countries. You can be present in fewer countries and be very relevant. So the countries that we are in are very relevant. We chose CIS countries because Russia is our biggest operation. People understand the culture. People who obviously speak the language. We have the systems. So for us it is easier to expand in Russian-speaking countries, the ex-Soviet countries, and be successful.
* Could you compare Turkish consumers with other countries' consumers? Every country is different. And the consumers are different in every single country. One of the strengths that we have is the ability to adjust to local conditions. But consumers are quite different. In Russia for example, per capita consumption of beer is about 80 litres. Whereas capita per consumption of beer in Turkey is about 15 litres. There are huge differences in the consumers. In Turkey we also have the religious factor.
* What measures are you taking in order to expand the market in Turkey? The most critical issue we have in Turkey is to expand per capita consumption of beer. To do that, we have innovation. We come up with new packages and new brands. To do that we have sponsorships, we have events. We try to be relevant to the young population. We have continuous marketing activities. Efes is drunk by all adults. Our specific target is consumers between 20-35 years old. Those are the ones who consume the most in general terms. So that is our target group.
* How has the trend for healthy lifestyles affected the sector? The beer business has benefited from that because people are moving from hard liquor into beer. Because beer is a more refreshing drink. It has less alcohol than raki or whisky… So I think those trends are working in our favor.
* In which countries has Efes developed more quickly? Do you have plans to enter new markets? The largest market we have outside Turkey is Russia. It is a very important market for us. Besides Russia, there are Kazakhstan, Moldova and Georgia. We have plans to enter new countries. We are always evaluating opportunities.
How Has Efes Expanded Abroad?
What do you think of foreign investors investing in Turkey? How has this affected competition?
Efes Is An Icon In Turkey Our most important competitor in Turkey is the Carlsberg Group. It has international brands. But here in Turkey we have 85 percentage of the market. So we know how to face international competition. In Turkey, Efes is an icon. Everyone knows Efes and we are very proud of that. But this also represents a tremendous responsibility to make sure that we deliver on our consumers’ expectations.
We Are Growing Fastest In Russia We have about 40 brands. The most important is Efes. We export Efes to almost 60 countries. But we have 39 brands besides Efes. So our brand portfolio is quite diversified as well. In Turkey, Efes is the leading brand. We are present in the countries where we have production or manufacturing facilities. In Moldova and Georgia, we are the number one. In Kazakhstan we are the number 2. In Serbia we are number 3. And in Russia we are number 4. But we are the fastest growing in Russia.