A refreshing approach
Providing over 3.5 billion servings of its soft drinks to consumers around the world, CO-RO is now entering into an exciting new period of expansion which will place innovation at the heart of its future operations
August 22nd 2017 was a very special and symbolic day for the Danish, fruit-based soft drinks, ice-lolly and concentrates company CO-RO. It was on this day, 75 years ago in 1942 that two entrepreneurial brothers, Jep and Flemming Petersen founded the business. To celebrate the occasion the company welcomed no fewer than 90 of its people from all over the world to its headquarters to participate in a global summit at which presentations were made and plans for an exciting future were discussed.
CO-RO’s marking of three quarters of a century in business comes at a time when it has been outperforming its competition in what have been somewhat challenging times. This has been the result of not only the continued popularity of its leading brands, such as Sunquick, Suntop, Suncola, Sun Lolly and Sunjoy, but also its push over the last 12 months to employ a number of competencies in the field of innovation.
“One of the big initiatives that we have worked diligently on in recent times is changing the culture of the business, building upon our success as Danish-cultured company in order to evolve into a modern, fast-moving FMCG organisation,” explains Executive Vice President (EVP) of Global Innovation, Lee Richard Taylor. The first non-Dane to join the company’s executive committee, Lee’s work alongside his fellow regional EVP’s has helped create a sophisticated project management office (PMO) to help the company deliver its strategies and projects. When it comes to innovation, CO-RO’s PMO breaks this down into four different categories; renovating, sustaining, breakthrough and radical, thus providing a strong balance to the company’s portfolio of products.
“One of the first things we recognised was the need to boost our own internal capabilities,” Lee continues. “Recruiting people with a history of working for the likes of Coca-Cola and Suntory, we wanted to bring our new and existing team together in one big, open space, one that places research and innovation at its heart. That is the concept behind our new headquarters and innovation centre, which we plan to have open and operational by the end of 2018.
“Situated on the second of three floors, and covering around 900 square metres of floor space, our new innovation lab will be at the centre of the new complex and will offer a very open environment, with stairs connecting it to our marketing department and a balcony overlooking the activities taking place below. We want people, both staff and visitors, to be able to interact with us within an inclusive space which encourages contributions and discussion. We want to engage the business fully and believe that by putting innovation at the centre of our operations we will reap the rewards of becoming a faster, more efficient business.”
Lee’s previous experiences within the industry have given him a unique perspective when it comes to whether innovation should be kept a closely guarded secret or shared freely. “What I have personally found is that too much protectionism surrounding innovation can actually be counterproductive. We want to tear down such walls in a bid to be more entrepreneurial and to rapidly build up our brand portfolio. The multi-million Euro investment that we are putting into our new, state-of-the-art innovation centre is proof that, when it comes to being open about innovation, our stance is based on much more than just words.”
Increased research and development will hugely benefit CO-RO as it embarks on several key initiatives over the coming years, particularly when it comes to developing product options for an increasingly health conscious marketplace. The company is working on projects to reduce sugar content in existing products as well as exploring options in the emerging ‘healthy refreshment’ category.
Over the past two years, CO-RO has doubled the investment in research and development, and will continue to increase investment in this category in the years to come. “The result of our efforts has already produced a much more engaged workforce of people who are passionate about the journey that we are on as a company,” Lee enthuses. “Once operational the new centre will also provide us with the ability to carry out fast concept development and piloting, which in turn will accelerate our product pipeline and give us the capacity to push through more work. The evidence of this is already beginning to appear and can be proven by the fact that we are now doing two-to-three times more innovation-based projects than we have done in previous years. This has only become possible by building our capacity and capabilities, and this is the journey we want to see through in the coming year.”