Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

A Presidential Brew

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

A Presidential Brew

Article excerpt

VISITING THE Dominican Republic? If so, you'll have a difficult time finding beer that doesn't carry the Presidente label. Then again, this local brew is so popular that hardly anyone bothers with the competition.

Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana S.A. (CND), the company that produces Presidente, has managed to turn its business into a virtual monopoly, accounting for ninety-eight of every one hundred bottles of beer sold in this nation of 8.5 million people. That's according to Franklin Leon, vice president of business at Grupo Leon Jimenes S.A., which owns CND.

"Presidente is considered the mainstream beer in the Dominican Republic, the brand to compare all others to," says Leon. "We have a unique, different flavor."

CND was established by U.S. businessman Charles H. Wanzer in 1929. The company's first beer brands were Colon and Reina; in 1935, it introduced the Presidente label.

Fifty years later, the Leon Jimenes group--which until that point was known more for cigars than anything else--acquired a majority stake in CND. Since 1993, CND has been headed by Rafael Menicucci, who is also a vice president of the parent firm.

At present, CND employs well over two thousand people and produces 2.8 million hectoliters of beer annually at its sprawling brewery in Santo Domingo. From there, millions of bottles of Presidente are trucked to distributors and retailers all over the Dominican Republic.

"We have to import the bottles," says Leon. "In fact, everything, including the hops, is imported, except the labels, the bottle caps, and the water used to make the beer."

According to company officials, total group sales last year cane to $600 million, and beer comprised 82 percent of that amount. That translates into $492 million in 2001 revenues for CND.

Leon, forty-six, is a great-grandson of Leon Jimenes, who founded the parent company in 1903. …

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