VnC Cocktails, which went into liquidation in September 2014, has been taken over and its ready-to-drink cocktails have returned to shelves.
The company hit headlines in 2011 when it featured in an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. Seven years later, company general manager Kate McKinlay talks rebranding and ties with resorts in the Pacific Islands.
What does your business do?
VnC Cocktails offer a really good quality natural cocktail that is already made. There are two couples who are the new owners, who took over the brand, they brought the recipes and we're getting it going again.
The brand itself completely folded, it hadn't been around since 2014 - it was a case of growing too big too quickly - they were in 20 countries in the world.
I moved from Fisher & Paykel, where I did product development, to this role and have found interesting quirks and challenges at every corner.
The owners bought the brand and I got handed a hard drive with all the old brand assets and recipes, and slowly reconnected with a few people who were involved the first time around, and it is now being produced in the same factory that it used to be produced in.
What has the rebrand involved?
We've changed the bottle it was originally in, we've been able to recapture the original Facebook page which had 20,000 fans on there. The day I changed the cover image on Facebook all these people were like 'ee you're coming back' which was quite exciting, and go to know that people genuinely liked it and missed it and excited that it was going to reappear.
How long has it taken to get the product back out to market?
We've been working on it for about a year. We had a whole lot of the old bottles that were basically sitting idle, otherwise going to be sent to landfill, so we actually started by doing a run which we've been selling up into the Pacific Islands so it's been used up there in hotels and resorts which is great for them because alcohol is very expensive and they have issues with wastage and inconsistencies. That was our first manufacturing run and we've done another where we introduced the new glass bottle and branding into the New Zealand market.
Where are the new products sold and in what markets?
At the moment we're distributing to around 60 stores around the country but it is a mixture of all different liquor stores. We are also in negotiations with Bottle-O, they are looking at core ranging it. We've only been on the market for three weeks.
What's been the most challenging part of the rebrand?
Being a smaller manufacturer and having financial constraints and having to be very careful where we spend our money, to do a manufacturing run is particularly expensive and the reality is that a lot of those factories want to produce 20,000 litres of something whereas for us we're wanting to make, at the most, 5000 litres at a time because that's what our cashflow allows.
Factories want to produce 20,000 litres of something whereas for us we're wanting to make, at the most, 5000 litres at a time because that's what our cashflow allows.
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What are the long-term plans for the business?
We're looking at doing quite a few events. We're working with the Events Venue Association, we're had quite a bit of interest from them for lounges at sports venues and concerts and theatres so that's one avenue we're looking at. We're also looking at doing some brand extensions, we would like to do potentially lower sugar options in the future and perhaps more of a night time range such as espresso martinis. We have also developed an event-only product single-serve can.
What have you learnt about the beverage industry following you foray into it?
It is very competitive and highly regulated. We've had meetings with the alcohol control people at Auckland Council, the lady who runs Alcohol HUM for the police, and actually people are really supportive when you come to them and put all your cards on the table and have a proper discussion about it. Rules and regulation are here for people's safety and so if you're wanting to make a business that's creating something to make people have a great experience, or contribute towards that, then they're supportive so long as you have responsibility at the forefront.
What advice do you give to others thinking about starting their own business?
You don't know what you don't know. Go out there and connect with people who have done this before. Most of the time people are happy to share their knowledge.