Australian Beverages Limited

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Exam case Australian Beverages Limited
Pre-seen information Semester 1 2010

Australian Beverages Limited — Pre-seen information
A. Introduction to Australian Beverages Limited — March 2010 Australian Beverages Limited (ABL) commenced soft drink manufacturing in 1937. During the 1970s and 1980s, the company expanded its beverage portfolio by entering into other non-alcoholic beverage categories, such as fruit and milk-based drinks. Entry into the snack food market was recently undertaken in response to declining consumption of carbonated soft drinks (CSDs), the company’s traditional area of business strength. This move also enabled ABL to leverage its strong distribution capabilities to supermarkets, convenience stores and hospitality channels by adding adding such complementary food products to non-alcoholic beverages. Nevertheless, CSDs still accounted for 90 per cent of company revenue in 2004. Tom Dwyer, the current managing director, has been with the company since 2005. He joined the company at a time when CSD growth was stagnating and shareholder confidence in the company was waning. This had resulted in the share price declining by 15 per cent in the two years prior to his appointment. In order to restore shareholder confidence, Dwyer established a strategic planning team within the company to assess the current product portfolio and identify organic and acquisition growth opportunities. From this review the importance of operational excellence was identified and strong investment was made in world class manufacturing facilities and systems. Process re-engineering was implemented to reduce costs of manufacture and time to market. Having finalised the integration of a snack food business acquisition just over 12 months ago, Dwyer is now aware that he needs to identify further growth options given predicted continuing decline in the CSD market. In January 2010 he asked the strategic planning team to undertake another detailed review of opportunities for future growth, specifically identifying products and markets where the company would have the capabilities for successful entry. Bottled water was one industry that was identified, based on its complementary nature to the existing beverage portfolio. This industry had been identified as ‘of interest’ in the ABL’s first strategic review in 2005. At that time the market was deemed too small and unsophisticated. However, the Australia bottled water manufacturing industry has grown significantly since this initial review. Dwyer has requested a detailed review to determine whether entry into the domestic bottled water manufacturing industry is now a viable strategic option. If deemed to be a viable strategic option, Dwyer also wants a recommendation whether the ABL should enter the industry by establishing its own operations or by targeting an existing competitor for acquisition in order to gain immediate market share.

B. The Australian bottled water manufacturing industry

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Bottled water is the fastest growing category in the non-alcoholic beverage market in Australia, with sales revenue of $1.483 billion in 2009. The major segments of the industry include bottled still and sparkling water. Within these two segments, different packaging sizes and types are offered. Water can be purchased in a range of single or multi-serve bottles including 600 millilitre, 1 litre or 5 litre bottles from the supermarket or convenience store. Bottled water is also available in bulk packs (that is: 10 litres or greater) for water coolers for home or office use. Different types of water also exist, from naturally sourced sparkling mineral waters to purified 2 and specialty waters. Manufacturing facilities for purified water are generally located in close proximity to major water utility suppliers to minimise the transport distance from the water source to the purification plant. In contrast, most sparkling mineral water manufacturing plants are necessarily concentrated in close...
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