Profile-Chris Dees - CBS Ireland

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Profile-Chris Dees

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COMPANY PROFILE
Backing up the all-Ireland beverage market
Twenty years after identifying a gap in the market, CBS Ireland continues to expand its range of support services supplied to the hot and cold drinks industry, co-owner Chris Dees tells Alyson Magee
We also provide an electronic pick and place
service for PoS. Clients can access a website
function restricted to their own use, put in an
order and we pick and pack it for them. That
service has worked very well.
YOU ALSO OFFER GRAPHICS &
DESIGN SERVICES?

It’s a big focus at the minute, and we do
everything from banners and wall skins to
custom decals and van graphics. We offer a full
digital printing service, which supplements our
other departments. We work with Terex in the
US, and it’s a growing sector for us with a lot of
young, innovative people working in it.
IS THERE GROWTH FROM ANY
PARTICULAR SECTORS OF THE DRINKS
TRADE?

We are driving the coffee side of business, as
we recently took on distribution of a number
of Italian coffee lines which are fully automatic
and supported by the bean manufacturer Caffe
Barbera. We are providing coffee docks and
support equipment, which can be made bespoke
to requirements, to cafes and shops including
convenience stores.
We also distribute slush equipment from an
independent Italian range, Elmeco Quickrem,
which prepares and serves soft ice cream.
WHAT WAS YOUR BACKGROUND
BEFORE YOU CO-FOUNDED CBS
IRELAND?
I had worked in the beverage industry for quite a
number of years, at Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and
Coca-Cola Amatil in Australia.
Having started my working career in 1975, I
served an apprenticeship before I joined Coca-Cola,
working in Ireland for four years before moving
to Australia in 1984 and working for Coca-Cola
in Melbourne until 1992. During that time, I
developed into a managerial role and then returned
to Coca-Cola in Ireland for two years before setting
up CBS. I am a big advocate of getting your exams
and went back to my school to give a talk, but I
wouldn’t be an academic person myself and believe
there is success beyond being an academic.
HOW DID CBS IRELAND COME ABOUT?
On my return to Northern Ireland from Australia,
I was working at Coca-Cola HBC and identified an
opportunity to set up a support company for the
entire drinks industry but primarily Coca-Cola to
begin with.
I set up Complete Beverage Services (CBS
Ireland) 20 years ago in 1996 with joint owner
Charlie Nethery, providing key services to Coca-
Cola, and then expanded to supply the entire drinks
sector in Ireland.
HAS HAS THE BUSINESS GROWN MUCH
OVER THE LAST 20 YEARS?
Initially it was just soft drinks, but we have since
expanded the business into hot drinks and alcohol.
We started out with six people working for CBS
Ireland, and it’s now around 50 on average as trade
can be seasonal.
TELL US ABOUT THE BUSINESS
We are based in Omagh and cover all Ireland. We
also have a sister company in Melbourne, Australia
which is not financially linked but provides similar
functions to the drinks trade over there.
We provide seven key functions, which are run
as separate business units: Warehousing/Storage;
Refurb Centre; Technical Services; Logistics; Sales;
Point of Sale; and Graphics & Design. Coca-Cola
would still be one of our major clients, as would
Red Bull, JD Wetherspoon and many of the large
vending operators.
We have a 40,000-square-foot warehouse and
refurbishment centre, where we can store anybody’s
equipment. We currently warehouse all the
equipment for Coca-Cola and Red Bull, and it’s
distributed directly from our warehouse.
We have service technicians and refrigeration
engineers, and offer a full refurbishment service
including equipment upgrades such as retro fitting
LED lighting.
WHAT ARE THE KEY ADVANTAGES OF
THE SERVICES CBS IRELAND SUPPLIES
TO THE ALL-IRELAND DRINKS TRADE?
We provide such a wide range of services to
the drinks industry, it puts us on a very strong
footing.
We also bring a lot of innovation into the
industry here, as we attend a lot of global
trade shows, particularly in the US, and we
travel backwards and forwards to our site in
Melbourne.
CBS in Melbourne is certainly a player, in
terms of bringing new innovations to the market.
Having lived in Australia for eight years, I picked
up a lot from the trade there where the vending
sector in particular would be very aggressive and
the sales techniques are very strong.
WHAT IS YOUR FOCUS IN 2017?
Our focus this year will continue to be on
driving the coffee and slush machines, and we’re
also looking to expand into draft wine.
As we are all Ireland, we have the logistical
capability to continue to expand, and we may
even look at moving into the Scotland market
this year as well.
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