FRS to target large format stores through Pepsi

The FRS Company’s distribution partnership with PepsiCo will bring the quercetin-fueled beverage to large-format stores east of the Rockies beginning around September, when the brand will also debut improved flavors and new packaging, said president and CEO Carl Sweat.

“We wanted to land on the new distribution in the fall,” Sweat said, “[with] better tasting and better looking product.”

The agreement, which will funnel FRS through PepsiCo’s Quaker/Tropicana/Gatorade grocery distribution system, will help get the brand’s concentrate, powder and chew forms into more areas of grocery and drug stores, Sweat said. The product – especially its ready-to-drink form – has frequently been positioned with energy drinks, but Sweat wants to expand its reach to the sports nutrition section as well as the powdered beverage set, where PepsiCo boasts a significant presence through its Gatorade and Propel brands.

The agreement will also allow FRS to enter difficult-to-reach specialty retailers like karate dojos and colleges, Sweat said. Next year, he said, the company will assess how FRS and PepsiCo can distribute the product to convenience stores.

The agreement represents another example of PepsiCo’s recent efforts to bolster its portfolio through partnerships and internal innovation. It signed Rockstar to a distribution agreement in February 2009, and last month rolled out Gatorade’s G-Series Pro to sports and nutrition stores – a familiar channel for FRS.

Sweat would not comment on financial terms of the agreement, and wouldn’t say whether PepsiCo required an equity stake as a condition of distribution, but he noted that FRS secured $23 million in financing in April. The brand is also not currently interested in co-developing new products with PepsiCo, he said.

“[It’s] just a distribution agreement,” he said.

He added that the company plans to significantly ramp up its marketing investment. It recently aired a series of television commercials featuring L.A. Laker Derek Fisher, and plans another series of television commercials centered on cyclist Lance Armstrong that will coincide with the seven-time champion’s participation in the Tour De France in July.