Lee Fretwell is the head of sales & marketing at Kingsley Beverages
Tell us about Kingsley Beverages’ journey to the UK?
Founded in South Africa in 2007, Kingsley Beverages is a privately-owned business that has grown rapidly to produce, market, and distribute its own range of soft drinks brands and now enjoys over 25% market share in its sector in South Africa. Following this success, the business looked to grow geographically and plans for plants in Dubai and Cambridgeshire were born. Manufacturing in the UK commenced in late 2018 with a state-of-the-art PET line, followed by a high speed can line in late 2019. We have capabilities across a range of formats and soft drinks categories and we pride ourselves on our manufacturing excellence and our BRC AA rating.
Kingsley Beverages has a 25% share of the soft drinks market in South Africa
How has Kingsley Beverages been impacted by Covid-19?
The last year has been Kingsley Beverages’ first full year of production, and, as such, the effects of the disruption are hard to judge, as it is an assessment of the impact of what might have been! However, we have seen some clear trends towards larger formats, as consumers purchase to drink at home and a corresponding decline in the out-of-home / food-to-go formats, such as canned water. Looking ahead, consumer concerns, post Covid, include financial worries, with 91% of people saying it’s important to actively make savings on groceries and 39% concerned about the impact Brexit will have on overall grocery shopping due to rising prices. We are also currently supporting local food banks and Covid vaccination centres with free canned water through our Aquafria brand which offers a great product in a plastic-free container.
Read more: An introduction to…Dragon Energy
How can soft drink manufacturers like yourselves support its customers and consumers, with the threat of recession ahead?
It is Kingsley Beverages’ mission to bring to market premium products that have sustainable credentials, using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible. Our brands offer quality and value to the consumer (low consumer price point with no compromise on quality), excellent margins for the retailer and wholesaler, due to our low-cost operating model, supported by our Brexit-friendly UK manufacturing facility. Furthermore, we continue to invest in areas that our customers have highlighted as important for them and, as a result we are looking to launch our isotonic drink, Isorade, later this year.
What advice would you give wholesalers looking to grow sales in the category?
Consumers today are becoming savvier and will be even more price conscious post Covid. We, at Kingsley, believe there are clear gaps in soft drinks for a branded, value option. Our full portfolio of Dragon Energy, Aquafria, Aquafria Hints, Isorade and Mulberry Creek Mixers will offer credible alternatives to recognised brands on taste and appeal, deliver retailers and wholesalers strong cash margin and POR and give the consumer a great offering on shelf.
What products are you launching in the wholesale channel this year?
Dragon Energy is the No1 energy brand in South Africa. Our launch in the UK with this great tasting product, both standard and sugar free, has been well received by customers and consumers alike, demonstrated by the initial successful launches, with its premium cues of a matt finish, coloured tabs and ends, together with iconography to educate the consumer about Dragon Energy’s benefits. We offer both standard and PMP formats, 250ml at 59p and 500ml at 89p. This provides the wholesaler the chance to offer its retailers a product that delivers market leading cash margin and POR%.