Otago Daily Times

Friends’ drinks ven­ture se­cures deal across Tas­man

- AIMEE SHAW

AUCK­LAND: A year­old al­co­holic drinks start­up has landed a ma­jor dis­tri­bu­tion deal in Aus­tralia, which will grow its num­ber of stock­ists from 800 to al­most 2000.

Auck­land busi­ness Pals, which launched in October last year, has en­tered into a part­ner­ship with the En­deav­our Drinks Group, owned by Wool­worths Aus­tralia.

En­deav­our Drinks Group is the largest liquor re­tailer in Aus­tralia, own­ing re­tail chains Dan Mur­phy’s and Beer Wine Spir­its (BWS), ac­count­ing for 50% of the to­tal off­premise liquor mar­ket across the Tas­man.

Pals co­founder Mat Croad said the com­pany was look­ing to in­crease its rev­enue by more than 300% in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year.

‘‘The part­ner­ship pro­vides us with a fan­tas­tic opportunit­y where from day one Pals will be avail­able in over 1000 stores na­tion­wide in Aus­tralia,’’ Mr Croad said.

‘‘Go­ing straight to re­tail means there is cur­rently no need for tra­di­tional dis­tri­bu­tion or to have our own sales force on the ground in Aus­tralia.

‘‘This al­lows us to put more time and fo­cus into brand­ing and in­no­va­tion.’’

Most drinks com­pa­nies that want to range in chain re­tail­ers had to go down the route of smaller independen­t stores be­fore be­ing able to pitch to the big play­ers, he said.

‘‘This com­mu­ni­ca­tion [with En­deav­our] was hap­pen­ing dur­ing Covid the whole time as we couldn’t get over there and sit down with the team. It was a lot of phone calls and Zoom meet­ings back and forth, we’re re­ally ex­cited that we man­aged to get this across the line.

‘‘Pals is re­ally start­ing to so­lid­ify . . . in the New Zealand mar­ket and our plans are to try to ex­pand on that and have a lit­tle bit more of a global reach.

‘‘ The first mar­ket that we were look­ing to tar­get was Aus­tralia so this re­ally is a great step in the right direction for us.’’

The com­pany had set it­self the tar­get for its ex­port busi­ness to be 25% of to­tal rev­enue in the next two years.

It had forecast 320% growth in rev­enue this fi­nan­cial year.

New Zealand’s RTD mar­ket is a $300 mil­lion in­dus­try, while the Aus­tralian RTD mar­ket is worth more than $1 bil­lion — al­though it is much more com­pet­i­tive.

Pals was also eye­ing ex­port to China and the United States in the longer term.

‘‘Our first port of call is pin­point­ing mar­kets where we feel there will be de­mand for Pals and tak­ing into ac­count trad­ing agree­ments and Covid sit­u­a­tions.

‘‘We’re in a lit­tle bit of a con­fus­ing time in terms of a brand try­ing to ex­port around the world so, tak­ing that on board, we will nar­row down [our next ex­port coun­tries] and do our fea­si­bil­ity re­ports.’’

The com­pany was founded by four friends — Mat Croad, Anna Reeve and Jay Reeve and Nick Mar­shall — who were al­ready in busi­ness to­gether and run wine brand Master of Cer­e­monies.

In a now crowded mar­ket, Mr Croad said Pals was one of the coun­try’s first ‘‘health­ier’’ RTD (also known as seltzers) drinks com­pa­nies.

‘‘If you look at this cat­e­gory now in com­par­i­son to 12 months ago, it is very dif­fer­ent from the com­pet­i­tive land­scape of how many brands are in mar­ket.

‘‘Twelve months ago, there were three or four, now you could go into any store and there are around 10 — the cat­e­gory as a whole is heat­ing up.

‘‘It is ex­cit­ing to be a part of — it’s prob­a­bly the biggest shake­up the al­co­hol in­dus­try has seen for quite some time.’’ — The New Zealand Her­ald

 ?? PHOTO: SUP­PLIED ?? Cheers, mate . . . Pals founders Nick Mar­shall (left) and Mat Croad.
PHOTO: SUP­PLIED Cheers, mate . . . Pals founders Nick Mar­shall (left) and Mat Croad.

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