Icebreaker leadership change

The big news in New Zealand last week was Rob Fyfe’s appointment as new CEO of Icebreaker. As Jeremy Moon takes a step back from the company he founded in 1994, for the first time in the brand’s history someone else can call the big shots.

The streets are littered with companies founded on the passionate personal ideals of the men and women who created them; only to have lost their way when new management came in. (Must not mention Pumpkin Patch again. Must not mention Pumpkin Patch again.) Then every so often there are true business gems, those great companies that become even greater when new leaders take the reigns.

As the brand grows and management requires ever-greater returns, will the Icebreaker story – effectively Jeremy Moon’s story – still retain its founding principles without its Founding Principal? …

Business with Australia: long distance relationship

In the fifth and final part of the Business with Australia series, I ask New Zealand exporters whether the long distance relationship can work. It’s unlikely to come as a surprise that in business, as in personal life, the risks outweigh the benefits.

New business opportunities unfold when exporters formally commit to export markets and that means feet permanently on the ground.

Jeremy Moon, Icebreaker’s founder and CEO, started exporting to Australia in 1999 in what he says was a natural progression from New Zealand. The brand initially worked with a distributor in the ski industry, but with little success. In 2003, with a new strategy and small account base, they relaunched into Australia as a subsidiary….

Business with Australia: Culture clash

New Zealand’s sense of humour, lifestyle and early heritage may not be too different to Australia’s, but business culture in the two countries is not the same.

Australians are generally a tougher bunch to deal with and the size of Australia – both geographically and in population – means each state or territory has its own reputation and rules, which to exporters can mean distinct markets within the overall Australian market.

On the whole, New Zealand exporters I interviewed find the business culture of Australia less open and less reliable compared with home. Deals take longer to close, decision makers are harder to find and even things that look very promising can backfire at the eleventh hour. But once you’re in, it’s well worth your while…

Business with Australia: Play down the Kiwi bit

In the third of a six part series on Kiwi companies exporting to Australia, Bella Katz discovers that it pays to play down the Kiwi heritage when positioning in Australia.

One of the things New Zealanders do well is laugh at themselves. Maybe it’s part of that mythical tall poppy syndrome, or maybe cynicism is in the water. Whatever it is, we can all appreciate the things that are ‘world famous in New Zealand’, like L&P and the big sheep in Waikato.

The thing is, a lot of Kiwis and Kiwi businesses really are world famous, so it’s tempting to think the New Zealand story is critical in building a world class Kiwi brand (or a world class Kiwi). But given Australia is so close to New Zealand and shares a lot of the same DNA, does that connection help or hinder business development in Australia? …

Business with Australia: Do the research

In the second of a six part series on Kiwi companies exporting to Australia, Bella Katz asks what research prepared business owners for the international market.

Going into a meeting unprepared is a business executive’s recurring nightmare. So why would you enter a new international market without local knowledge? You wouldn’t, say New Zealand exporters to Australia. From fashion to professional services, manufacturing to media, the companies I interviewed said research was a crucial first step to business growth across the Tasman.

Stuart Norris, co-owner of tourism photography business Magic Memories, knows the statistics and data of his company and industry inside out. He considers research and local knowledge to be critical to the success of any venture…