Take 5 gets in on 2010 action
WHEN IT comes to capitalising on 2010 World Cup soccer, local food and beverage players are still looking a little sluggish on this field of opportunity. But not Take 5, one of Gauteng’s leading fruit juice companies, that has just launched Shot a new 10% juice range in a ball-shaped bottle, designed and made by Winplas, that’s aimed at South Africa’s young football-mad fans. Brenda Neall caught up with the Vereeniging-based company.
SHOT fruit juice, in its funky-fun bottle designed to appeal to soccer-fanatic kids and to make the most of 2010 hoopla, is but one example of Take 5’s market intuition, insight and innovation that has seen it evolve from a café/take-away outlet in Vereeniging into the premier short-life juice player in Gauteng.
Take 5 is a long-standing and much valued customer of Warwick Oakley’s, MD and co-founder of PET bottle supplier, Winplas. Warwick believes the Du Preez family who own and run Take 5 have an inexplicable knack of accurately reading their markets; recognising what will work for their different LSM consumers, and then delivering appropriate beverages in the right packaging and at the right price points. ‘The Du Preez’s have built up an incredibly successful grassroots compan; they’re instinctive business people, and perhaps without even seriously analysing it themselves, they have an acute understanding of those essential Ps; product, price, place and promotion,’ he comments.
But let’s go back to the beginning . . . Take 5 is a heart-warming success story. It was started 25 years ago as a mom ‘n pop café by Bill and Grace du Preez and, almost immediately, its fish ‘n chips and vetkoek proved a hit with Vereeniging’s working class hungry. The first leap to bigger times was an initiative by Grace to begin making mageu, the fermented maize beverage that was (and still is) Africa’s favourite energy drink long before flashy cans of dubious raspberry taste exploded on to the global arena.
Grace’s mageu recipe was another bull’s eye, and as kitchen production proved inadequate, the Du Preez’s set up a small factory, and thereafter a move into juice manufacturing was the next logical growth step. While the company’s Madu Mageu is still a significant part of turnover, against expectations this most traditional of drinks has been growing healthily in the past two years but is now dwarfed by the mammoth success of its juices. Take 5 offers a long list of pack and flavour variants, from 10% to 100% juice content, and total SKUs number over 50.
The fruit juice market moved into overdrive in the late 1990s, propelled by changing consumer tastes, health awareness, significant product innovation, a burgeoning middle class with more money to spend and enormous uptake in the informal sector. Take 5’s sales did likewise and, in the first seven years of this century, it has enjoyed over 20% volume growth pa, rapidly evolving into the top producer of short-life fruit juices in Gauteng.
Despite its success, Take 5 remains an unpretentious, low-key, family-run business, operating from the same sprawling Vereeniging site – now considerably enlarged and considerably busier – as where it started. Bill, now in his early 80s, is an active chairman, while Grace at 78 puts in a full day as MD (after both have been to gym or spinning class at 5am!). Youngest son, Perry, is sales director; middle son, Mark, takes care of production; and the eldest, Chris, manages its depots in Polokwane and Bloemfontein and the IT systems. Retirement is clearly not an option for Mom ‘n Pop du Preez. Ask Grace when she’s going to smell the roses and she rebuffs it with: ‘I do that in my garden on the weekend!’
The Take 5 name, incidentally, does not refer to this family of five, but was, Bill admits happily, plagiarised from the US Coca-Cola brand, Five Alive: on a visit to the States, he came across the juice and wanted a similarly catchy name for his product.
Power of packaging
|Winplas MD Warwick Oakley (right) with the Du Preez clan in their Vereeniging factory: Bill, Chris, Grace and Perry.|
Packaging has been a key part of Take 5’s growth formula. ‘There are only so many flavour variants, so many things you can do with ingredients . . . so, in this ultra-competitive arena, packaging acts as a major point of brand differentiation, and it’s a powerful sales tool. I see it as a walking, talking, on-shelf advertisement,’ comments Perry.
As Take 5 does no traditional above-the-line advertising, its PET bottles (all of proprietary design and supplied by Winplas) and labels (all supplied by Ferroprint) have to fulfill this role. There’s no doubt that our bottles and labels work hard in helping our sales, the graphics are bright and very eye-catching,’ says Perry.
Take 5’s early board cartons gave way to HDPE and later PET bottles. It also fills huge volumes of sachet juices in both 250ml and one-litre sizes, economy and novelty offerings that have been readily accepted by consumers. Its dedicated supplier of Ultralam laminated film for sachets is East London-based Ultrapak.
The introduction of PET bottles for short-life fruit juice put a rocket into the category generally, adeptly wooing imbibers with all PET’s attributes: premium, natural, attractive, convenient and lightweight. ’PET has been brilliant for us; the format has contributed significantly to our success,’ notes Perry. Another packaging winner for Take 5 has been the introduction of push-pull closures on its single-serve (500ml and less) bottles, and also supplied by Winplas. ‘The impact has been phenomenal, people just love them,’ he adds succinctly.
No traffic along the extra mile
Take 5’s chairman Bill du Preez is a great man for the anecdote and the pithy quote. And it’s a fair guess that he would probably like this one that twists the received wisdom on customer service and quality: ‘Quality in a service or product is not what you put into it. It is what the client or customer gets out of it,’ from the wise head of renowned management guru, the late Peter Drucker.
Certainly, in hearing him tell the Take 5 tale, Bill believes this is what his customers derive from his products at both ends of the price scale and, on the other side of the coin, he clearly gets a lot out of his long relationships with key suppliers, all of whom talk most highly of him in return. Says John Wilmers, MD of Ultrapak: ‘Bill du Preez is one of the finest gentlemen I’ve ever dealt with . . . we have a wonderful and valued partnership and have always been there for each other.’
In Winplas’ instance, it’s no coincidence that the two companies’ fortunes have blossomed in tandem, riding the massive growth waves in both their industries over the past several years. From ground zero but eight years ago, Winplas has risen to be a R270-million pa company and a major new name in this packaging sector.
‘Suppliers are god to manufacturers, really,’ says Bill. ‘And while price is obviously important, if suppliers let you down, your business is in trouble - so it’s about trust and delivery. Winplas, Ultrapak and Ferroprint . . . all our packaging suppliers play a tremendous and valuable role and we both trust and value each other one hundred percent. They are companies who have all the advantages of large corporates, but they think and operate with an entrepreneurial, hands-on approach it’s an excellent combination.’
Last word to Warwick Oakley, who may be the MD of his company but remains the humble salesman when it comes to his customers and is meticulous in maintaining the personal touch. And few customers are as important to Winplas as Take 5, with three of its bottle-laden pantechnicons pulling into the Take 5 yard every day.
‘I operate from a really simple perspective; to always give people more than what they expect to get,’ says Warwick.’I believe that the right price and quality only gets you into the game, but it’s service that wins it. And while the Du Preezs feel like family to me, you can never get complacent and think a relationship will save the day when things go wrong. At Winplas we’re always aware that if we dont take care of our customers, someone else will.’
Take 5 T (016) 430 1200
First published in PACKAGiNG & Print Media, October 2007
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