Bernard Schlafstein is Heinemann MEA Director after van Groningen retires

By Luke Barras-hill |

Bernard Schlafstein (right) has succeeded Stephan van Groningen as Heinemann Director Middle East Africa.

Bernard Schlafstein has taken over the Africa sales region for Gebr. Heinemann after the decision of Stephan van Groningen to take early retirement after 38 years with the company.

Schlafstein brings nearly 20 years’ experience at Heinemann to the role, most recently holding the title of Sales Director Near East & Turkey.

This region will now be integrated into the new MEA sales division (merged with the African countries).

Prior to that, he was Sales Director for the EECA region covering major markets such as Russia, the Baltic States and Ukraine.

He has established different joint ventures and built up long-term partnerships with distribution clients during his time at Gebr. Heinemann, said the Hamburg-based firm in a statement.

“I am very happy to now also take over the Africa business,” commented Schlafstein. “We serve more than 32 countries in this region. Besides our joint ventures in South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt we also supply border shops and airports. It’s an exciting and diverse business.

Schlafstein brings almost 20 years’ experience at the family owned company to his new role.


“Africa is the future for the travel retail business. With its 54 countries and having the youngest population of all continents, we believe that the region will develop tremendously. Therefore, it will play a big role for Gebr. Heinemann.”

Van Groningen, who will work with Schlafstein to ensure an orderly transition of the business in the coming weeks, has been responsible for building and expanding the business in Africa.

Beginning his Heinemann career as a trainee in wholesale and retail in 1984, van Groningen went on to hold several managerial positions with the family owned company.

In 2010, he took over what was then the newly founded sales area of Benelux/Africa and forged strong relationships with partners and clients while managing the challenges facing the Africa market during the pandemic.

Richard Hoyer, Vice President Sales at Heinemann added: “We thank Stephan van Groningen for his many years of excellent work for our company and wish him all the best for the next stage of his life.

“We are certain that the well-established cooperations between our African partners and Gebr. Heinemann will be continued with Bernard and his team.”

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