Dutch finance chief in frame to take top position at Scottish & Newcastle

Share this article

SCOTTISH & Newcastle is believed to be lining up its finance director, Ronald den Elzen, to replace Jeremy Blood as head of Heineken's UK operation.

City sources say the firm favours the Dutchman who has been an integral part of the S&N team since it was taken over by Heineken last year. A decision is expected shortly.

One industry source said: "Ronald den Elzen was a key part of the integration process when S&N was acquired by Heineken.

"He is well liked by the board in Amsterdam and there is a feeling that they want their own man in place to take the business forward."

The company shocked the drinks industry last week when it announced that Blood, who had been with the firm for 21 years, was to leave with immediate effect for personal reasons.

Blood was appointed S&N's managing director in April last year. A graduate trainee with the firm, he was one of the few remaining S&N pre-takeover "old guard", following the departure of chief executive John Dunsmore and other members of senior management shortly after the acquisition. It is believed he received a substantial sum from cashing in his share options after the takeover.

It is understood that Heineken backed Blood's strategy of premiumising the beer sector.

A spokesman for S&N confirmed that the board in Amsterdam were "very supportive of the direction that the business was going under Jeremy's stewardship".

But the past 12 months have been tough for all brewers. Beer volumes at S&N have slumped 5.1 per cent and Heineken was recently forced to write down the value of the UK business by 45m just a year after it had been bought.

In February Blood told Scotland on Sunday that the past 12 months had been "tough" and that integrating the two businesses on the back of a flat UK beer market had taken its toll.

He said: "What is dramatically different in the UK from almost any beer market in the world is that the prices are low. Just really, really low.

"Stripping out tax and duty, the price the brewers charge for beer is roughly about half of the level in western European markets."

Den Elzen has held a variety of positions with Heineken in the Netherlands, working his way up from head of planning and control to, latterly, integration manager at S&N.

A spokesman for S&N declined to comment on speculation linking den Elzen to the position of managing director. He said: "The board are going through the appointment process in the usual manner and hope to make an announcement very shortly."