October 07, 2020
Mikkeller hires first outside CEO
Pandora’s Former President of Asia Pacific, Kenneth Madsen, joins the beer team as Chief Executive Officer. Founder Mikkel Borg Bjergsø’s new title will be Creative Director.
“In terms of brand recognition, Mikkeller has grown really big in the international world of craft beer, and I am very proud of the team we have built from the ground up, anchored by COO Jacob Gram Alsing. We are now ready to take the next step, and Kenneth will help take Mikkeller to the next level,” says Mikkel Borg Bjergsø about the hiring.
With Kenneth Madsen at the helm, Mikkel Borg Bjergsø is looking forward to being able to concentrate on the creative part of his work in Mikkeller and to strengthen the brand even more by once again being able to take a more in-depth role in product and concept development, work on exciting collaborations and be more present at some of the Mikkeller locations around the world. The brand development part of his job has received less attention in recent years, while a focus on financial growth has increasingly taken up more space in his calendar.
“Over the last few years, I've spent a lot of time on growth and administration, and that's not really where my main interest lies. With Kenneth's help, I’ll have time to concentrate on and take proper care of what I'm really good at, namely, develop the creative part of Mikkeller - the products and the brand.”
Photo: Camilla Stephan
Huge potential in Asia
Mikkeller opened a Mikkeller bar in Shanghai earlier this year, which is the first in China. Throughout the summer, the bar's turnover has been 300 percent above the average turnover of other international Mikkeller bars, which says something about the potential in East Asia in particular.
“With both Ecco and Pandora, Kenneth has proven that he can make a business grow quite impressively internationally. He’s in possession of very valuable experience from Asia, which will be of great use for Mikkeller, and he sees just as much potential for the company internationally as we do,” says Mikkel Borg Bjergsø. His future ambition is that East Asia will take up about half of the business by the end of 2022.
Kenneth Madsen has been around the world since he started his career as a trainee for Carlsberg 25 years ago. Most recently, he has spent seven years in Hong Kong as President Asia Pacific of the jewelry company Pandora.
“Ever since my time with Carlsberg, I’ve dreamt about one day returning to the beer business, so when the offer came to join the Mikkeller team it was a no brainer. Not only is Mikkeller one of the leading craft beer brands worldwide with a strong business in Europe and the US, but there is also a huge potential for expansion in untapped markets such as China
For someone with my background this is really a dream job. A fantastic product, a globally recognized brand and a hugely innovative organization underline the vast potential for Mikkeller going forward,” Madsen says.
Photo: Camilla Stephan
The last big step in Mikkeller was taken in 2016, when the American investment fund Orkila Capital bought a minority stake in the company. Since then, Mikkeller has grown explosively. Orkila's founder and managing partner Jesse Du Bey supports Mikkel Borg Bjergsø's decision and believes that the timing is just right:
“Mikkel and I discussed the idea of a CEO over the years, and the time feels right. Mikkel is one of the world’s great brand and product minds and this hire will allow him to focus on these areas that he loves.”
The remaining organization with Jacob Gram Alsing as the Chief Operating Officer of Mikkeller consists.
Kenneth started his career 25 years ago as a trainee in Carlsberg’s marketing department followed by a 6-year tenure with EMI Capitol Music. The last 16 years he has been based in Warsaw, Poland and Hong Kong working for large Danish international companies ECCO Shoes and PANDORA Jewelry. Throughout his career he has been focused on building brands and distribution in primarily developing markets in Central Eastern Europe, The Middle East and Asia Pacific. During his last two jobs he has worked across 35+ markets, opened more than 1000 retail and e-stores and established several DKK1BN+ businesses. Kenneth Madsen is 44 years old, married with 4 kids and currently living in Hong Kong but will relocate back to Copenhagen in the next few weeks to start his new job at Mikkeller on the 1st of November.