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2012 Power 50: No. 33 Luiz Edmond

Luiz Fernando Edmond is putting the horses in front of the cart, and hoping they pull Anheuser-Busch toward market-share gains.

The president of Anheuser-Busch InBev’s North American business is seeking to leverage the iconic Clydesdale horses in order to revive U.S. sales growth at the St. Louis-based Budweiser brewer, among other strategies.

Earlier this year the company named Edmond, a longtime Brazilian brewing executive, to run the company’s U.S. operations, following the departure of former U.S. president David Peacock. Edmond previously ran the company’s Latin American business and had been with AmBev since 1991. At AmBev — which was acquired by Belgian brewer Interbrew in 2004 to form InBev — Edmond held various positions in sales, operations and distribution. He had been named co-chief executive officer of AmBev in 2004.

In 2009 the St. Louis Business Journal labeled Edmond “the most influential St. Louisan nobody knows” after he came to the U.S. in the wake of the 2008 InBev acquisition of Anheuser-Busch Cos.

Peacock, a former marketing executive, had been the face of the U.S. business following the acquisition, while Edmond was the “man behind the curtain” implementing the new InBev strategies, the article said.

Now the sole executive atop the U.S. business, Edmond has retained a low profile at the nation’s largest brewer. He was not available to comment for this article.

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, however, he detailed some of the strategies he has planned to win back customers who may have defected to smaller beer brands or other alcoholic beverages.

Among them are a renewed focus on new-product rollouts, with 19 launches planned for this year. The new products include small-batch craft beers, cider and new malt beverages, the article said, in addition to Bud Light Platinum, a light beer with a higher alcohol content that Edmond described as a “game changer.”

He’s also said to be seeking to leverage the imagery of the Clydesdales, as seen in their presence at some industry conventions this year and in new TV spots recalling the company’s revival after Prohibition.

It’s not clear yet whether the company’s most recent acquisition — a deal to buy the 50% of Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo that it does not already own — will have any impact this year on the company’s efforts. Modelo owns the Corona, Modelo and Pacifico beer brands, all available in the U.S., and others in Mexico.

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