Jack Singleton


Singo Jr, pals go for piece of nudie action

Singo Jr, pals go for piece of nudie action, Paul McIntyre - 6th May 2004
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)

Jack Singleton and his partners at ad agency Jack Watts Currie have just bought a stake in the booming, upstart and irreverent juice company nudie, which they helped create 18 months ago.

Mr Singleton - son of ad guru John - reckons he's done a Victor Kiam-like deal where in the famous 1980s advertising tagline for Remington shavers, Kiam claimed he liked the product so much he "bought the company".

As much as Mr Singleton would have us believe it's a major deal for his ad agency, Jack Watts Currie is believed to have bought a 2 per cent stake in the nudie business, for an undisclosed price.

It's a stake, nevertheless, in a company which has never advertised but is making some large drinks companies quite nervous. Since it's inception 18 months ago, annualised sales have topped $12 million and the company is targeting at least $25 million in the next 12 months.

Nudie's founder, Tim Pethick, says a range of nudie soups will be launched in winter and an expansion into the ice-cream market is planned for summer. Mr Pethick admits, so far, the company has not made a profit.

"We'll be profitable sometime in the next six months," he says. "It's just that we've gone from two people to 90 people in the space of 12 months. We're investing heavily in growing the business."

But with nudie showing all the classic signs of either publicly listing as a "small cap" company on the Australian Stock Exchange or being acquired by a larger softdrinks conglomerate in the next two to three years, why sell a stake to Jack Singleton and friends?

"It's an acknowledgement they've been instrumental in helping create the brand as it is today," Mr Pethick says. "It's good for us and for them to have an ongoing involvement."

Mr Singleton certainly agrees it's a fair wrap. He had a call from Mr Pethick late one Friday afternoon wanting to talk about launching a new fruit juice company.

"At that stage, I thought yeah, yeah, we've heard that one before," Mr Singleton recalls.

However, the following week they met up and Jack Watts Currie did their first project outside of traditional advertising - concocting the nudie name and the packaging.

"We just looked at all the boring packaging that everyone in the fruit juice category was doing and had some fun with it," he says. "We did absolutely no research, no focus groups. Tim just followed his own gut instinct. Some big beverage companies have spoken to Tim and said they could have never done it because their research companies would tell them the name was too rude, too quirky."

Mr Pethick says he's not concerned by the explosive growth of the retail juice bars, or the fact the likes of Berri or Coca-Cola are muscling in on the super premium juice segment that nudie has helped carve out.

"Juice bars have helped create our business," he says. "They help introduce the notion of fresh juice."

The big beverage players, meanwhile, have several issues to face when entering the market, according to Mr Pethick. First, they have to source the fresh fruit and then create the right brand.

"I'm not convinced they're capable of marketing it," he says. "I think the [nudie] brand will hold us in good stead."

As for plans for nudie's first media advertising?

"I don't see us having to do it for a while," he says. "I think it's a couple of years away. We're highly dependent on event marketing."

And the timing on selling all or part of the company? "I'm just focused on paying my mortgage right now," he says.





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