Currently the fifth-largest brewing company in the world by volume, the history of the Molson Coors Beverage Company reaches back to 1774 and brings together the pioneering stories of English Immigrant, John Molson, and German immigrants Adolph Coors and Frederick J Miller. In 2005, Molson merged with Coors, followed by the integration of 100% ownership of MillerCoors in 2016 to create the multinational company as it exists today. Selling 92.1mn hectolitres of product in 2018 and providing employment to more than 18,000 people across regional offices in North America and Europe, Molson Coors is a success story of collaborative business based on a shared passion for making superior-quality beer.

Joining the company in 2011, Jeanne Cate has been involved in the brewing industry for most of her career. Graduating from the University of Cape Town with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering, she secured a position with South African Breweries shortly after and was instantly won over by the genuine craft that making beer requires and the passion and energy of people in the business. “It was just so incredible to work in the brewery in my first position as a brewing engineer,” she says. “I instantly found an appreciation for the science of the brewing process and beer production.” Gaining experience in the industry and going on to become a master brewer, Cate eventually found herself drawn to the research and development (R&D) and innovation aspect of the business, leading this programme on behalf of Molson Coors International. She became a Senior Director of Supply Chain for the Asia Pacific and Africa region in 2018 (based in Australia). “It's truly a privilege to look after our iconic beers as we expand across international markets.” Cate most recently stepped into a role leading US Supply Chain Strategic Partnerships: “As Molson Coors implements its revitalisation strategy, the US business is looking to achieve consistent top line growth that enables us to invest in new opportunities.”

Asked how her approach to the role distinguishes itself, Cate claims that her innovation background has been invaluable in shaping her vision of and approach to supply chain management. Indeed, it has proved to be invaluable as Molson Coors embarks on a rigorous campaign of new market and category expansion, as well as operational innovation. “My R&D experience really taught me about taking smart risks and developing ideas and approaches in an agile, flexible way while remaining focused on the longer term objective,” she explains. “Our environment is evolving too fast to be paralyzed with short-term incremental thinking or be derailed by small upsets. We can’t be resistant to change if we want to become and remain competitive. We need to thrive in uncertainty and be content to stay focused on executing against a clear strategy while flexing around the setbacks.”

Committed to redefining the art of brewing as a truly 21st century process, the company is investing in new technology and always looking for ways to increase the efficiency and sustainability of its operations. Molson Coors’ pledges include making its packaging 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025, mitigating 20% of CO2 emissions from its value chain and collaborating as closely as possible with its partners and distributors to create innovative new solutions. “Building relationships and encouraging strong teamwork with our partners has helped to underpin our success, I think,” Cate says. One such partner with whom the company enjoys a special relationship is software solutions and consulting company enVista. A leader in enabling manufacturing and distribution across supply chains, enVista specialises in optimising efficiencies, saving costs and driving customer engagement. When the company needed a collaborator to assist with its expansion journey in the APAC region, it was certain that enVista could accelerate the transformation. “We needed someone who is straightforward to work with and has a flexible, customisable approach as our business grows. They're truly a partner we can call on at any time.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has made many companies reassess what an optimised supply chain looks like and how it operates. Cate says that Molson Coors is building the agile corporate culture necessary to tackle this challenge head-on. “Consumer buying patterns are changing at a very rapid pace and our whole supply chain management has needed to adapt. I think this whole experience will allow Molson Coors to develop capacity in a volatile marketplace.” Cate explains that Molson Coors Beverage Company is executing against a broad revitalisation plan to streamline Molson Coors’ operations. “The company revitalization plan is also going to involve improving digital capabilities, expanding data resources, growing our innovation systems and increasing our capabilities in precision marketing and ecommerce execution.” Augmenting the company’s supply chain will include the increased utilisation of digital solutions that leverage new data and technology capabilities to repurpose effort away from transactional activities, as well as empowering employees to leverage data and insights to make decisions, evaluate outcomes and quickly adjust course to achieve continual improvement against key performance measures. “Data with the right insights help us reduce costs, make faster, better decisions and create new products or services to meet customers’ changing needs.” However, as with all new ideas, approaches will also be thoroughly researched, piloted and tweaked before being fully integrated. 

Another core challenge being faced by larger brewing companies is competition driven by consumer demand for craft beers which often have fuller flavour, greater variety and more of a local presence. Molson Coors has participated in the craft beer movement and has already achieved great success with its Blue Moon Belgian White brand. Using its superior industry breadth, Cate explains that “the company maintains its edge by really tapping into this opportunity for new growth.” It’s an approach that has paid off impressively in the US market, where Blue Moon is the best selling craft beer brand and one of the country’s top 10 favourites overall. Demonstrating that the craft market is a profitable investment, Molson Coors is continuing to expand its portfolio of products and has begun introducing them to international markets, having started with Blue Moon in Australia in 2013. Beyond this, committed to maintaining an interesting and diverse portfolio of products, the company has also announced new lines of canned spritzer wines and is exploring the possibilities of CBD beverages in the US. 

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Quotables

Our environment is evolving too fast to be paralyzed with short term incremental thinking or be derailed by small upsets and resistance to change

Jeanne Cate | Head of US Supply Chain Strategic Partnerships

Despite the company’s success and popularity, Cate emphasises that there is still a lot of work to be done and that the evolution of its supply chain will be critical as it continues to adjust to rapidly changing consumer buying patterns. “Supply chains are going to become more integrated, which creates exciting opportunities and synergies across logistics and sourcing,” she states. “Our biggest opportunity will come from the different mindset and approach that needs to be implemented: optimising costs, increasing our market share, meeting customer expectations and creating potential competitive advantages.” Cate is convinced that, by clearly defining the company’s vision for the future and realising what capabilities a modern supply chain will necessitate, Molson Coors will be adopting a mindset rooted in growth and flexibility, with an accommodating attitude that will allow it to stay relentlessly focused on its long-term goals. “Innovation isn't just a single process applied to a specific area of the business,” Cate concludes. “It’s the result of capabilities existing within the company, which then enable ideas to be successfully developed and operationalised. Supply chain transformation is no different.”

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