MANAGING DIRECTOR, CHILLI MARKETING
“Above all I really wanted to help create something we could all be proud of. With both the people and brands we have at Chilli I really feel this is now happening.”
Growing up in the picture perfect Holme Valley in West Yorkshire, Christian Barton enjoyed a hugely happy childhood with family, friends, and football.
Although his brother Kieron thinks he should have been a professional footballer, Christian now works alongside him and business partner Gareth Whittle and heads up Chilli’s Asia-Pacific operations having moved there in 2009 to launch ‘Beautifully Swedish’ cider brand Rekorderlig.
Having worked in sales for companies including Coca-Cola and Heineken, Barton performed a pivotal role in shaping Chilli’s on-premise strategy in the UK and building a their structured approach to building premium liquor brands.
His first success at Chilli came with Cusqueña lager in the UK where it is still highly regarded by leading bartenders in the industry.
Lightening struck again in 2008, when the three owners discovered discovered the Swedish cider, Rekorderlig. Immediately drawn to the simple, yet stylish bottle, they set out a meet with the owners and built an alliance to position the premium fruit cider as a refreshing alternative to pub-goers in the UK and then beyond.
Barton was integral to it’s launch strategy approach before helping to hire a team who have driven it to be number 4 packaged cider in the world’s biggest cider market.
Despite being a tiny cider market at the time, Barton felt the product would go well in Australasia and moved there in 2009 to set up an operation. Barton set up a distribution partnership with Melbourne based operation --Red Island Marketing-- less than three years after launch the product became the number one cider by value in the Australian market and is heading to number one in New Zealand -- partnered by Redwood Cider --.
Barton says, “Rekorderlig is such an incredibly good product that we felt it could come down here and grab a piece of the market. Perhaps we did not think it could do this well as we were up against some very big and extremely tough competitors but we all love giving the big companies a run for their money and ultimately consumers have taken the product to their hearts and it’s helped ignite a category.”
Rekorderlig is now Australia’s leading premium imported cider brand and has been driving phenomenal growth in the cider and overall liquor market ‘down under’. Beverage giant Coca Cola Amatil take on Rekorderlig’s distribution under Chilli in Australia on January 1st 2014 and Barton comments; “We are hugely excited to appoint a global leader in the beverage industry such as CCA as our partner, to further develop the Rekorderlig brand. The new venture gives tremendous scope to grow Rekorderlig’s sales operations here in Australia.”
A competitive sportsmen (and gifted soccer player) Barton has a “never ever give up” attitude which he helped instill as a mantra at Chilli. He lives in Sydney with wife Holly who is expecting the couple’s first baby in May. When he’s not traveling around the world, Barton is zipping up and down the front at Manly on his Longboard.
What's your favourite lunch?
Bánh Xèo and a Bia Hoi in a street café in Hoi An.
Who would you like to take to a desert island & why?
My wife – she will probably read this at some stage.
Best night out you've ever had?!
Every night out with Banter & Banter Associates Ltd was always a good one – hard to make a call on the best.
What's your favourite bar & why?
It’s still Reggae Bar in Langkawi. It links a lot of these questions together nicely – especially 1 and 5.
If you could have a superheroes superpower what would it be & why?
Teleporting… It would be absolute banter.
Favourite film and why?
The Usual Suspects – the greatest trick the devil ever pulled…
Have you ever won a trophy? What for?
Erm, just for being the best footballer yo.
What is your favourite time of the day?
Dawn, but only after a good night’s kip. Not one of those mornings where you need another (3rd) coffee and it's already 10:30.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a Fireman Mickey love.
If you were an animal - what would you be?
A Panther. They don’t go anywhere near the sea do they? Basically, anything that doesn’t go in the sea – have you seen the stuff in there?!