After another strong year for the organisation, Danny Celoni, CEO of Carlton & United Beverages (CUB), spoke to National Liquor News about the highlights he was especially proud of.

“We put a major focus on customers, understanding their strategies, their major initiatives, and how we can add value in a way that really resonates for them. As a result, our partnerships and relationships have strengthened and deepened, and it’s been a critical lever in being really interconnected with our customers.

“We made a distinct and focused effort as an organisation to be orientated around our customers and consumers and put them at the centre of everything we do. We’re really clear that to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace, we need to deliver initiatives that are growing categories, driving frequency and driving new penetration in a responsible manner.”

From a growth perspective, Celoni spoke about CUB’s investment in innovation, and its importance as a lever for the industry and the categories the business operates in. He also highlights a heightened effort in getting beer back into growth.

“Our focus has been bringing truly differentiated innovations to market that would drive incrementality by bringing new users in or creating new occasions,” he says.

Speaking about investment, Celoni made it clear that focusing on core brands is non-negotiable, highlighting brands such as Carlton Draught, Great Northern and VB.

He says: “We’re really happy with the performance of these great Australian iconic brands. These brands have fundamentally responded to the investment and we’re seeing them really turnaround.”

Category innovation

From a category view, although we’ve seen a degree of slowdown on a consumer spending level, premiumisation still plays a critical role according to Celoni.

“We’ve just launched Balter Cerveza, which has responded really well within the category as we’ve seen strong repeat purchases.

Premiumisation’s role will continue to exist, and it will be an area we will continue to focus on and invest in because it’s important to give consumers choice, especially those who are prepared to pay for a different experience or higher-quality product.”

Celoni acknowledges to drive growth and momentum, differentiation will be critical for the organisation. He says there is a real appetite to create differentiated initiatives that deliver bespoke solutions for CUB’s customers and for consumers in a meaningful way.

“The alternative is there’s a risk we throw so much innovation into the industry that it causes complexity and confusion for the consumer, which means it doesn’t have the incremental impact we set out to achieve. Our focus is to drive seamless and incremental innovation.

“In innovation, we extend our focus beyond just products. We aim to generate additional opportunities throughout the year, moving beyond one-week promotions to explore innovative approaches to drive footfall. This involves creating unique events tailored to diverse customer segments, making it a personalised experience for both the organisation and their shoppers.”

A circular economy

In 2024 and beyond, sustainability remains a priority for Asahi Beverages and CUB. Along with the goals of achieving 100 per cent renewably sourced electricity by 2025 and the transition to recyclable, reusable or compostable primary packaging by 2025, Celoni spoke proudly of Asahi Beverage’s partnership with VicReturn, a huge milestone in driving sustainability in beverage packaging. in Australia.

“Asahi Beverages has just been appointed, along with CCEP and Lion, to be the Scheme Coordinator for Victoria’s new Container Deposit Scheme (CDS). Our work on the CDS will help create a real circular economy and is a major focus for us.”

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