Bigga hooks up with Golden Krust in US market
Lovelette Brooks, Lifestyle Editor
In a landmark business deal on July 13, Jamaican soft drink giant Bigga popped a bottle of its exotic-flavoured drink in Brooklyn, New York, toasting a partnership with Golden Kurst Caribbean Bakery and Grill, a Jamaican family business with more than 120 franchise outlets across the United States.
Bigga is the flagship brand of Wisynco Group of Companies, one of Jamaica's oldest family businesses and largest distributor of consumer products since 1975.
A bottle of Bigga soda paired with a Golden Krust spicy, beef patty sells for US$2.99, the equivalent of less than J$300. Both partners and patrons think this is a good deal.
"It's great value for money," said Assembly Woman Helene Eisten, who attended the launch and declared herself a loyal Golden Krust supporter.
William Mahfood, managing director of Wisynco, said his soft-drink penetration into the US market is part of the company's plan to expand internationally, adding that it is the first time a Jamaican carbonated beverage has pursued this level of distribution.
"Our immediate growth objectives in the beverage industry include North America, the United Kingdom, Canada and the Caribbean," he said, adding that the partnership would cover all 120 Golden Krust outlets across the US.
By choosing a niche strategy, Mahfood is unlikely to upset American giant drink partner, Coca-Cola, whose drinks he bottles and distributes in Jamaica,but Wisynco is also planning to grow its distribution channels in the US down the line.
SOLID BUSINESS DEAL
Some nine billion cases of soft beverage is currently being sold in the US annually, putting the local beverage up against giants like Pepsi and Coke. But, based on rigorous research and a well-thought-out marketing plan, said Stephen Dawkins, export manager at Wisynco, the partnership with Golden Krust is a solid business deal.
"Our main strategy of penetrating the US market is twofold. We are targeting the diaspora market and our sales strategy is on-premises. The product will be consumed at the point of sale. This is forced consumption, and later we will build out to off premises and get Bigga into supermarkets here," Dawkins said.
"Jamaica has a strong influence on the diaspora. Whatever they see in Jamaica, they will buy it here. So we are launching here, where there is a strong Jamaican and Caribbean [presence] and move out. Our objective is to become a global brand."
Bigga, with its colourful, bold labels, comes in a variety of flavours, including Jamaican kola, pomegranate, ginger beer, cream soda and mango. It is a good complement to Golden Krust's already popular menu of Jamaican foods, said Steve Ament, vice-president of franchise operations at Golden Krust.
"We are extremely happy securing the Bigga group partnership. We believe it is great business, deal, given the quality of their products and the value they bring to customers," Ament told Sunday Business.
He said Golden Krust, which has been in the North American marketplace since 1989, and which turns over an annual budget in excess of US$100 million, serves a diverse clientele.
Lowell Hawthorne, president and CEO of Golden Krust, who leads the largest family-run patty enterprise outside of Jamaica, said the addition of Bigga soft drinks is a real deal for consumers.
'POOR MAN's LUNCH'
"The 'poor man's lunch' has now been introduced to North America," he quipped, delighted at the patronage the launch event attracted.
Golden Krust expects to increase its bottom line in the region of five to six per cent with this partnership, according to Ament.
The 'golden deal', as the partnership is dubbed, was endorsed by Jamaica's consulate to New York, Sharon Burrell Green.
"I think this partnership was bound to happen. In Jamaica, you grab a patty and a soda and go. You can now do the same here," she said.
Franchise holder Christine Tyrell, a Jamaican businesswoman who hosted the launch at one of her three outlets, said business is good, and the merger will make it even better.
"Our customers will be getting value for the buck. We love the variety of flavours which will be sold in all our stores," she said.