Swanndri: Kiwi icon’s checkered road ahead

In 2007, defending his decision to move manufacturing to China, Swanndri’s former chief executive Julian Bowden said that if any product deserved to be called a Kiwi legend, it was the Swanndri.

Dear beloved Swannie. Even after all these years of not living in New Zealand, I feel a warm fondness for the old checkered shirt. But the Swanndri brand raises a number of challenges for its owners. It’s an icon with a niche market of rugged, no-nonsense blokes. So any changes need to stay true to the core customer. It’s also still a very Kiwi product, which is a disadvantage in as many markets as it is an advantage. In Australia, for example, we have our own blokes and iconic Aussie brands like Driza-Bone, Hard Yakka and R.M. Williams.

Without an additional, compelling point of difference, why would a quintessentially Aussie man buy a quintessentially Kiwi product? …

Has Kiwi business lost its mojo in Australia?

New Zealand once appeared to have the magic formula for launching innovative businesses in Australia.

Australia remains New Zealand’s number one trading partner for exports and imports, and according to Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, New Zealand’s exports to Australia were valued at more than $7.5 billion in 2011-12. 

But it has been eerily quiet for the last few years, with Australian media devoid of stories of great New Zealand brands.

Where are you all? We miss you.