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Growth optimism

Filipe Naigulevu
Tuesday, April 17, 2018

EARTH'S finest water — FIJI Water — has a bright and promising future ahead; with plans to double the business over the next five years as the company owner Stewart Resnick puts it.

The American billionaire and the biggest farmer in the US indicated his optimism last night — this time it was not FIJI Water at the usual Hollywood red carpet events.

It was at a cocktail event at Suva's Grand Pacific Hotel with a close-knit amount of local and regional business partners and friends.

This event saw Mr Resnick presenting a speech on the company's developments and successes of the best-selling brand of premium bottled water sourced from Yaqara in Fiji.

He shared how he grew his business from doing janitorial work in college to a large and successful global company — The Wonderful Company (formerly Roll Global) based in Calirfornia which is the parent company of FIJI Water.

But what was more interesting was when Mr Resnick answered a question from the crowd on where he saw FIJI Water in the next five years.

While the leading premium bottled water company had significantly grown about four times in the past years, Mr Resnick said his goal was to at least further double it in every five or six years.

"We've been fortunate in many ways. When we started with Fiji Water, there was always a lot of hard work, but we had to set the base," he said.

"And it took us about seven or eight years before it started becoming really kind of took off."

"I have to say that half of my success in life and in business had been due to luck."

The business growth has also been successful with its tenacious and aggressive marketing campaign which saw a splashing $30 million towards this alone last year.

This included a large FIJI Water digital year-round billboard in the heart of the ever busy New York City.

Apart from these successful marketing promotions, Mr Resnick also admitted that "the winds" were at their back with water becoming a more popular considered beverage — for the health conscious mostly.

But while the company is a major Fijian exporter, Mr Resnick said his only concern —which would likely dampen this growth optimism — was the high cost structure FIJI Water had to be able to get the exotic blue bottle to various markets worldwide.

"We have large expenses than probably any other water company because we ship from here to the US and we also pay extraction taxes at least a hundred times as much as anyone else including Evian," he said.

"If we can maintain our cost structure, I think we can do just fine. If that cost structure changes then it's going to be difficult.

"But I believe we can maintain our cost structure and I am very optimistic about Fiji water basically because we increased the business about four times and my goal is to at least double our business at least five to six years."

The company is also actively engaged in the local community, something Mr Resnick emphasised on giving back to Fiji.

This is evident in its more than $2m support last year towards the FIJI Water foundation — a charitable trust funded and supported by the owners, employees and corporate affiliates of FIJI Water focusing efforts and investments on three priority areas of development.

These include providing clean water access to rural communities; building educational facilities and infrastructure that benefit children, teenagers and adults; and providing access to healthcare services to underprivileged communities.

Mr Resnick also announced last night that FIJI Water was giving $50,000 towards the Prime Minster's Relief Fund to assist relief efforts of the recent natural disasters experienced in Fiji last week.

"I feel for the people that are going through this so soon after TC Winston. But more than that I am impressed by the resilience of the Fijian people," he said.

While the company is also a leading employer providing jobs for hundreds of Fijians, Mr Resnick revealed that there were still a lot of opportunities available to further grow the company.

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