The Business Year

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MOZAMBIQUE - Industry

Francisco Junior

Country Manager, Pernod Ricard

Bio

Francisco Júnior is a professional who studied at Universidade Politécnica. He has almost 16 years of professional experience, twelve of them in marketing and sales. In July 2020, he was appointed Country Manager for Pernod Ricard Moçambique. He has strong experience in Business development, Sales and marketing as a result of his experience in FMCG, acquired in companies such as British American Tobacco, Cervejas de Moçambique, and Pernod Ricard Moçambique. He started his career at British American Tobacco in marketing and then brand management. Later, at Cervejas Mocambique, he was responsible for several brands as well as new product development. At Pernod Ricard Moçambique, he was also involved in different projects such as distribution optimization and route to market, among others, as trade marketing manager and later commercial manager for Mozambique.

"The digital realm remains crucial for engaging consumers, especially in FMCG, where evolving consumer habits drive increased reliance on digital platforms."
TBY talks to Francisco Junior, Country Manager of Pernod Ricard, about the pandemic, recent successes, and goals for 2024 in Mozambique.
During the pandemic, Pernod Ricard strengthened its digital presence to meet customers’ needs and formed partnerships with delivery companies. How has this evolved since then?

The digital realm remains crucial for engaging consumers, especially in FMCG, where evolving consumer habits drive increased reliance on digital platforms. In our growing middle-class economy, access to the internet and information has expanded significantly. Recognizing this, we have maintained our investment in social media to stay connected with our consumers. However, our expectations for e-commerce growth have not been fully realized due to challenges such as regulatory barriers hindering digital payments and high logistics costs. While Mozambique lags behind countries like South Africa in e-commerce adoption, we remain committed to its potential as the future of consumer engagement. Informal delivery services, known as “txopelas,” have emerged as a promising avenue, offering affordable doorstep delivery of various goods. We are leveraging this trend to understand the logistics involved, laying the groundwork for future e-commerce endeavors. Pernod Ricard is a strategic partner of Jumia in Kenya, and we collaborate by sharing orders with them due to their well-maintained platform. Our strategy involves closer consumer engagement and empowering small entrepreneurs through partnerships with our distributors, paving the way for further investment in e-commerce, either through our own platform or by collaborating with local partners.

Can you highlight some recent accomplishments of the company?

There were significant achievements despite the challenges brought by the pandemic. Our young team in Mozambique, with an average age below 32, demonstrated resilience throughout. Rather than laying off staff during the crisis, we maintained our full team, preserving benefits and believing in market recovery. This decision yielded profound benefits, fostering team development and stronger employee relationships. We not only retained all team members, but also promoted some to senior roles and began exporting talent to other business affiliates. This outcome underscores the importance of investing in people, as they drive business success. Moreover, the experience reaffirmed our business’ resilience, despite facing sector-specific restrictions during the pandemic, particularly concerning alcohol sales regulations, which still impact us today. The first measure involved prohibiting alcohol sales at specific establishments, while the second initiative-imposed limitations on selling hours for alcoholic drinks. These measures directly impact our revenue, posing significant challenges to our business. However, successfully navigating through these external factors and maintaining steady growth demonstrates the resilience of our company. These accomplishments highlight our ability to adapt and thrive in challenging circumstances. Furthermore, through strategic reviews of our business model, we achieved a major victory by becoming the official market leaders in Mozambique for spirit drinks in both value and volume last year.

The company established Pernod Ricard Mozambique, recognizing that Africa offers more than just the potential of being the next Asia. Could you elaborate on the strategy behind this decision?

As a business, we strongly believe in Africa and have recently adapted our model, making tough decisions to better seize the opportunities available on the continent. Our focus is on the present opportunities in Africa, not just on future potential. We recognize that the continent is experiencing growth, particularly in the expanding middle class, presenting opportunities for premium products such as ours. For us, Africa is not a future prospect—it is growing now. Despite external challenges, Mozambique holds particular importance, with current growth driven by a young population, emerging entrepreneurs and increasing buying power. We are not waiting for future developments like oil and gas; we are actively building and seizing opportunities now. While high potential returns come with high risks, we understand and balance these factors. Strengthening our commercial capabilities in various African markets is a testament to our commitment to the region and our belief in its potential.

How does the Mozambican population interact with your products, and how do you educate them about these premium offerings?

As a company, we have two crucial components: brand education and promoting responsible consumption. It is our responsibility to educate consumers about our premium products and the importance of responsible drinking. Through our active involvement in organizations like Association of Producers and Importers of Alcoholic Beverages (APIBA), we prioritize educating consumers on these topics. Given the widespread access to information through the internet, our focus is on providing compelling reasons for choosing Pernod Ricard brands, emphasizing their unique heritage, quality, and social value. We also aim to educate consumers about different categories of alcoholic beverages, fostering informed choices.

Does the company have representatives or influencers for any of its brands?

This aspect is integral to our marketing and digital strategy, which comprises various components. We utilize different channels, including a significant focus on digital platforms and influencer marketing. We prioritize influencer education, as their endorsements significantly impact our brand perception and consumer behavior. Our efforts involve educating influencers on product details, responsible drinking and brand representation guidelines outlined in our code of conduct. We strictly adhere to responsible marketing practices within our sector, without exceptions.

How do you envision the future of the FMCG sector in Mozambique?

This sector is poised for rapid growth, we observe the emergence of new industries and brands catering to consumer needs beyond alcoholic beverages. FMCGs are crucial in meeting the demands of a growing population, which is expanding at a rate of over 2.5% annually, potentially reaching 60 million soon. As buying power increases with the creation of businesses and job opportunities, FMCGs are positioned to meet the rising internal demand. While much attention is given to the oil and gas sector, FMCGs play a vital role in supplying essential goods to consumers, driving economic stability and supporting the growth of the middle class.

What are your plans for Pernod Ricard in Mozambique in 2024?

We aim to solidify our leadership by delivering exceptional consumer experiences. This involves ensuring the availability of the right products and brands at the right time, as well as fostering closer connections with consumers through digital engagement. By addressing consumer needs effectively, we anticipate continued business growth. As a company leader, I prioritize the development and export of young talents. This not only benefits our company, but also contributes to the broader economy by supplying well-trained professionals who can drive growth and share knowledge. While companies often strive to retain top talent, today’s workforce is increasingly mobile. Embracing a mindset of talent development and exportation ensures a continual influx of skilled professionals and enriches the overall job market.

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