Otago Daily Times
Friends’ drinks venture secures deal across Tasman
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