Turnaround on track at Jones Soda

by Eric Schroeder
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SEATTLE — A turnaround strategy put in place by a new chief executive last summer is working, according to Jones Soda Co.

In the year ended Dec. 31, 2012, Jones Soda narrowed its loss to $2,903,000 from $7,154,000 in fiscal 2011. Net sales fell 6% to $16,365,000 from $17,401,000.

During a March 7 conference call with analysts, Jennifer Cue, c.e.o., briefly outlined some of the key components of the turnaround strategy and the company’s 2013 operating plan.

“Firstly, during the latter part of 2012, we needed to align our operating expenses to the company’s capital resources and the size of its current business,” Ms. Cue said. “We eliminated top-heavy corporate overhead, along with marketing expenditures that did not fit our brand image. I feel comfortable that this has been achieved.

“Second, while working on our turnaround, we further refined and prepared to launch a lower calorie yet full flavor and good tasting product that answers the growing consumer and health care industry demand for more healthful beverage options.

“Thirdly, we have focused our efforts on certain core geographic markets and distributor partners as well as product lines where we can achieve profitable long-term growth while maintaining a highly efficient streamlined operating structure.

“Fourth, we have been hiring in the first couple of months of 2013 and have a team of employees who are highly entrepreneurial and aligned with the Company's turnaround strategy and long-term growth strategy.

“Finally, and in my opinion absolutely essential to this plan, is that we invigorated the Jones Soda brand with an emphasis on marketing initiatives and distributor support viewed by our consumers as unique, edgy and fun and precisely how our brand originated in the first place.”

Even as Jones Soda worked on reorganizing the cost structure of the business the company “did not take our eye off the ball with respect to new product development,” Ms. Cue said. The company on Feb. 1 launched Natural Jones Soda in four flavors: cherry, green apple, orange mango and lemon line.

“This is a truly refreshing soda sweetened with a blend of ingredients, including pure cane sugar, agave syrup and stevia that contains only 30 calories per bottle, 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of sugar with no preservatives,” she said.

Ms. Cue said Natural Jones Soda is being launched with a “very focused and disciplined approach,” and initially will be available in select Whole Foods stores in northern California and in approximately 50 of the Albertsons stores in Southern California.

“We will be building our Natural Jones Soda line in California through these two key accounts as anchors, and will supplement this with a full-on launch of the line to our D.S.D. partners in California,” she said.
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