Bae Juice, the Aussie business popularising Korean pear juice Down Under, has inked a big deal with Woolworths supermarkets to stock its products in 900 stores nationwide from October.
Founded just a few years ago, the deal is the latest win for the company, which has successfully marketed its product as a Korean hangover cure and is already stocked in independent supermarkets across the country.
Co-founder Tim O’Sullivan says they’ve already begun scaling up production to meet new orders in a significant expansion of their operations.
“Confirming the deal was one of the greatest days of our lives,” O’Sullivan says of finding out the deal had been finalised earlier this week.
O’Sullivan says he was refreshing his email “minute-by-minute” before Woolies signed the dotted line, having waited a week after the decision was delayed.
“We barely slept over the last week, it was so stressful,” O’Sullivan says.
Being stocked in Woolies will significantly increase Bae Juice’s national profile and will allow the company to invest in charting its next steps, including an ambition to become stockists in every major bottle shop across the country.
“We’re lucky, but sometimes you make your own luck,” O’Sullivan says about Bae Juice’s success.
“Two years ago I thought this product was liquid gold … it was only a matter of time, no matter what happened in the world,” he says, referencing COVID-19.
The Woolworths deal was negotiated by FMCG consultants at Thrive-Collective, a decision O’Sullivan says was the right one, given how daunting the complexities of negotiating a 900-store deal were.
“We’ve always said, if it’s not your field, you might need to outsource it, and it’s paid off,” he says.
“[Woolworths] was really into it straight away.”
Scaling the company during the COVID-19 pandemic has been no easy task, O’Sullivan says, requiring the co-founders to take on extra jobs and lean on their close relationships with international suppliers and farmers.
The business ran into some cashflow stress earlier this year, which was solved by taking a step back and reassessing their priorities.
“We’ve taken on a lot more roles ourselves to cut our overheads, and that took the pressure off everything,” he says.
“We were spending thousands on public relations, social media and all that stuff. It was just adding up.
“We’ve been really hands-on, and that’s really helped. It’s just been a process of figuring stuff out over time.”