19 Oct 2012

Charlie's new CEO looks to growth

6:33 pm on 19 October 2012

The new chief executive of drinks company Charlie's is injecting big brand thinking into the role after 17 years with Coca-Cola.

New Zealander Craig Cotton replaces Charlie's co-founder Stefan Lepionka, who has left after bedding in the company's transition to Asahi ownership.

The Japanese brewer bought Charlie's, which owns the Honest and Phoenix drinks brands, for $129 million last year.

Charlie's sells its drinks in 15 countries, with plans to expand.

Mr Cotton, whose background is sales and marketing, says Charlie's is poised for growth through innovation and market expansion.

He will use his international sales and marketing experience to push the brands in the United States, and will consider tapping into New Zealand's clean green image to promote them.

He says the company will continue to be run and managed from New Zealand.

Mr Cotton is launching two new low-sugar free drinks on both sides of the Tasman.