July/August NZ Marketing gets the juice on businessman of the hour Stefan Lepionka

Sometimes the planets align. On the same day the July/August edition of NZ Marketing magazine hits the shelves with a cover story about Charlie’s chief executive and co-founder Stefan Lepionka comes news that Japanese beverage giant Asahi has offered to take the company off his hands for $130 million. You can read all about the deal on the new Idealog website here and, if you want to find out how the business got to where it is now through a combination of savvy ‘gut-feel’ marketing, astute brand-building and good old-fashioned honesty, you can subscribe to NZ Marketing here

When we chatted a few weeks back, there was no mention of an imminent takeover and the folks at Pead PR only found out about the deal last week. But after years of hard graft and more than a few setbacks along the way, the big pay-out, which is still dependent on certain criteria being met, is certainly well-deserved.

In 11 years, the founders Lepionka, Marc Ellis and Simon Neal (together they hold around 52 percent of the shares), along with chairman Ted van Arkel and the board of directors, have managed to build a $130 million business from scratch. And they’ve done it right under the noses of two massive—and massively competitive—corporates through good processes, good people, good products and good marketing. But now, having recently gained a foothold in Australia after two big distribution deals with Coles and Woolworths, it’s time to play in the bigger international sandpit.

Lepionka will remain as chief executive of the company and the headquarters, as well as the Phoenix bottling factory, will remain in New Zealand. But having already—and unsuccessfully—dabbled with a large corporate when he sold 75 percent of his company Stefan’s to Frucor as part of a joint venture in 1994, he will no doubt be careful to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen again.

Aside from this revealing chat with the businessman of the hour, the big, thick July/August issue includes a range of other treats, including a look at the nascent realm of branded content and product placement, a trip into the modern, activation-focused world of sponsorship, a big yarn about the plethora of new ways marketers and retailers are making the registers ring, all you need to know about events and exhibitions (with a handy pull-out guide) and the second part of our 32-page guide to Innovation and New Product Development.

As per usual, there are also plenty of easily digestable marketing, advertising and media nuggets, including interviews with GrabOne’s Shane Bradley and ANZA’s long-serving stalwart Jeremy Irwin; a collection of old Steinlager ads and All Blacks posters; a good edition of Campaign Review; news, views and junk of the month; and a vast array of columns from marketing brainboxes such as Simon Young, Michael Carney, Google’s Asia Pacific and Japan president Daniel Alegre, Colmar Brunton’s Jacqueline Ireland, Naked Communications’ Matt O’Sullivan and AJ Park’s Dan Winfield.

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