EXPANSION PLANS: Bundaberg Brewed Drinks CEO John McLean expects 2017 to be a big year for the locally based beverage company.
EXPANSION PLANS: Bundaberg Brewed Drinks CEO John McLean expects 2017 to be a big year for the locally based beverage company. Carolyn Booth

Company brewing up storm in 2017

A NEW flavour, a bottling partnership in the US and continued international expansion are all on the table for Bundaberg Brewed Drinks in 2017.

CEO John McLean spoke to the NewsMail about what he hopes to achieve this year and the strategic planning that goes into expanding the brand globally, while retaining the values of a home-grown business.

"2017 is going to just another year for us, but it will be another big year,” he said.

"We have no reason to doubt the sales trends we're experiencing will reverse in any way.

"We expect to see growth in Australia, growth in New Zealand, growth in America, growth in Asia and growth in Europe - and that brings complexities.”

Those complexities include looking at ways to optimise the Bargara Rd site as well as where, what and how they should build as they expand.

"It's a big year of planning,” Mr McLean said.

"A new strategic plan is being written at the moment, so it's just all systems go.

"The United States is continuing to expand for us, last calendar year it was our largest international market.

"We've just scratched the surface in so many different locations and we've got a number of good, big deals in the pipeline at the present stage.

"We know one's come through and we're pretty confident on another two.”

While too early to name those companies, Mr McLean hinted it was large chain found both in Australia and the US.

Already selling up to a million cases in America, further expansion means the Bundaberg-based drinks companies is also searching for a bottling partner.

"As our volume increases...it's a lot of product to ship from Bundaberg, to Brisbane and then out via Hong Kong to the United States,” Mr McLean said.

"We've started doing some production in the United Kingdom to go across to the east coast of the United States and we're looking for a partner to finish off the packaging.

"We still brew 100% of the product here and then we ship it away for final packaging - so we're not shipping bottles and cardboard.”

With a workforce of about 225 employees, Mr McLean expected to add another eight staff in America if all goes well this year.

"That's quite challenging, to bring that many new people in and make sure we keep the culture and build the business we want it to be built in the end,” he said.

Mr McLean said 2017 would also see the introduction of a new flavour to its line-up of beverages.

"We're just working through some new product developments, there a new product coming down the line that will hopefully be released in September/October,” he said.

"We're down to the final two, so we've just got to pick which one we go with, and then we've got a whole lot more for the following year.”

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