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Two takes on Supie

While media took a paint-by-numbers angle that the failure of upstart grocery store Supie’s underscored the supermarket duopoly, Powered by Flossie founder Jenene Crossan pointed that the Board had collectively decided to risk continuing the startup’s operation based on funding coming through – which meant when it didn’t, there was nothing left to pay staff. 

Given the desperation for investment, we were surprised Board Chair Ben Kepes called current investors “old white men” who had been “scornful and patronising [to founder Sarah]”, despite committing much-needed cash. 

CEO of Icehouse Ventures Robbie Paul joined in, calling the shareholders who were holding off dilution “Rich idiots … leaking information and criticising [Balle].” Despite the trend for criticising such people, it doesn’t seem sensible if they are the audience you need. The effort to angrily support Balle may well have contributed to her company’s undoing.

The Supie media storm attracted smart players. The day after Supie’s liquidation announcement, The Warehouse Group's Chief Product Officer gave an interview on drivetime Newstalk ZB that fired the headlines. It said the Grocery Commissioner must hurry up on reform, because like Supie, The Warehouse has problems with large suppliers, who are needed to foster grocery competition.

Part of effective comms strategy is re-delivering your message at every opportunity. Topical criticism of the grocery duopoly enables The Warehouse Group to reaffirm its reputation as a company dedicated to low prices for Kiwis. 

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