Smooth operator working on getting the brand mix right

Andrew King has made it his mission to educate the nation about the merits of a fruit smoothie. The new CEO of PJ Smoothies says that 85% of the population have yet to be persuaded to try a smoothie, but believes the market has enormous potential.

The self-confessed extrovert joined the smoothie maker, from own-brand fresh juices, smoothies, fruit salads and deserts manufacturer Orchard House Foods in September.

He is looking forward to the challenges at PJ and using his sales and marketing experience in grocery, including directorships at Wells and Cott Beverages, and five years in brand marketing at Danone, to develop the category.

“I have always enjoyed the cut and thrust of doing deals and seeing a product get out to more customers and in greater volumes,” says King.

“The roles I have most enjoyed have been about new product and brand development, and PJ Smoothies combines all that.”

In the first few months as chief executive, King had to contend with moving head offices from London to Newark to bring operations and sales and marketing under one roof, which he says has done
wonders for the team spirit, as well as launching the new-look packaging and introducing new recipes to the trade.
But he says: “Now my focus is very much on getting all aspects of the brand mix right and the next big challenge is to boost the category.”

King believes that there is currently enormous potential in the smoothies market for the relatively small number of suppliers and says it is an exciting time for PJ Smoothies.

“There are only really a few brands competing in a £60m market, which I believe can grow to £160m over the next five years.

“It’s a very fashionable sector at the moment and the feel of the business is terrific."