By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: SodaStream is back with a new look, new products and a new team. Most importantly, the iconic home soft drink appliance maker has new retailers, including Harvey Norman, Bing Lee and David Jones, on board. spoke with SodaStream Australia general manager Matt Gabelich to find out what’s been happening.

“Where in the process of just rolling out through Harvey Norman now: 50 of their stores in the last two or three weeks, bit by bit over the next month, we’ll get through them all,” said Gabelich.

“Bing Lee’s coming on board as well, and I was with David Jones yesterday: we’re going into every David Jones store first week of September. I was with Woolworths promotions guy, just sorting out what we’re doing with Woolworths, we’re in Big W as well, and Kmart. We’re pretty busy at the moment.”

When asked how SodaStream was going in the rural areas, Gabelich said that he’s selling into a small number of Retravision and Betta Electrical stores. Not unsurprising considering its value to the suppliers, the primary focus over the last month has been on the Harvey Norman side of the business.

As for the products, Gabelich said that since the organisation’s restructuring, which involved the recruitment in the US of former Nike executives, there had been considerable changes to the SodaStream range.

“The old models that we had are so different to what we have today. Soda Stream got bought out two years ago. It’s a totally different look now to the old machines and the old packaging. We’ve had huge expansion, I’ve just hired five sales guys.”

To emphasise this expansion and commitment to retailers, Gabelich told that SodaStream will launch a $1 million advertising campaign, encompassing TV, print, outdoor and radio, this November. Gabelich stressed this would be a national campaign, including regional areas, as he looked to significantly grow the consumer base in the lead up to Christmas.

The SodaStream business model is a curious one. After purchasing the machine and start-up kit (RRP $69-$149), consumers are ready to go. When the start-up kit is exhausted, consumers need to return to a participating retailer to purchase a replacement cylinder for RRP $12.95 and syrup bottles for RRP $5.95. Gabelich said that a cylinder can make around 40 litres of soft drink, whereas a 500-millilitre syrup bottle makes around 12 litres of soft drink.

We asked Gabelich if retailers selling the SodaStream appliance itself had to also sell the cylinders and syrups.

“They don’t have to, but we advise them to – I’ve just done that with Bing Lee;  this is new to them, to actually have food in there, but these consumables bring people back to their store.

“The advantage to the retailers with the cylinders and syrup is that when [consumers] come back to their store, they’ve already made up their mind: ‘I need a SodaStream exchange cylinder, so I’m going back to Bing Lee’. [They] walk into Bing Lee, look around and say: “they’ve got a toaster for sale, TVs on sale this week, blenders on sale”.