Access Corporate Group chief brand officer and co-founder Livia Wang talks setting up a New Zealand division and aspirations for acquiring more lifestyle and FMCG brands to incubate growth.
What does your business do?
Access Corporate Group is a global brand management company. We incubate brands and represent brands doing marketing and sales or we acquire brands to help them grow from where they are at to where they would like to be. We set up our New Zealand office in Auckland in July but before that we've been representing New Zealand brands for the last three years, that's when the momentum began to build.
We work with brands Savar, MitoQ and Bee+ in New Zealand and other brands within beauty and wellness as well as wine brands, health foods and infant hygiene products.
What was the motivation for starting it?
I always believed there was another way for managing brands, and we believed there was a better way for brands to talk to their consumers more direct so they can understand their consumers' needs, identify the problems and offer a better solution. That's the reason why we started this business.
How big is your team?
At the moment we have about 10 people and we expect it to grow into 20 by either the end of this year or early next year, depending on how Covid-19 is going.
What have you been working on this year?
New Zealand retail is challenging at the moment for offline retailers so we try to help our brands around digital and running a lot of things online. We're building all of the infrastructure and busy working on protection and making sure they have beautiful products available really quickly to respond to demand.
New Zealand has a lot of potential for FMCG category, for example, dairy and nutritional food, design and fashion and jewellery brands. Lifestyle and active wear brands. The opportunity for New Zealand brands is global. New Zealand is a market that we can build infrastructure to attract more local consumers and brands. New Zealand has much more opportunity than other countries.
What are your long-term plans?
I think we can become an incubation hub for New Zealand brands and we can build the capability for brands to be able to tap into as they build their own; helping the brand establish concept, how to build the product portfolio for each different market and how to effectively engage with global distributors and business-to-business key account management including with all the different retailers.
We acquired skincare brand Savar in July and hope to grow our portfolio either by acquisition or partnership to eight brands within the next three years. We're currently in talks with New Zealand producers and suppliers of raw ingredients which may be used by other brands across our growing portfolio.
Within five years we expect to be exporting in excess of $100 million from New Zealand per year and will be building new warehousing, consolidating supply chain, as well as expanding our reseller network and operating infrastructure.
How has Covid-19 affected Access Corporate?
We have relied on technology quite a lot so it hasn't impacted operations but it has constrained the movement we are allowed. Sales are still very stable and we haven't seen a big jump or slowdown, but we have found a slowdown manufacturing-wise but we are catching up and hopefully next year will be another story.
What advice do you give others thinking about starting their own firm?
Do something you really love because that will make sure you do that very well. Love what you do. I encourage New Zealand brands to think big - lots of the time, New Zealand brands will be out of stock very quickly and the manufacturing capacity is just not there.