Naked Emerging Brands Shaken Up, Sales Force Consolidated

Naked Juice logoPepsiCo’s Naked Emerging Brands division has undergone a major reorganization, one that resulted in the near-elimination of the sales force at the erstwhile innovation shop.

Chris Lansing, the VP and General Manager of Naked Emerging Brands, retains oversight of the division, and a slightly broader title within the overarching North American Premium Nutrition group as well, according to her LinkedIn profile. In that role she will be able to draw on the company’s beverage and food categories as part of product development and marketing strategies. Ms. Lansing could not be reached for comment.

With regard to the Naked Emerging Brands group itself, the unit will now be much more heavily weighted toward marketing its brands, while its sales will be mostly handled through PepsiCo’s Chicago offices, which are closely associated with Tropicana, Quaker, and the Pepsi Warehouse Sales (PWC) division. Naked does retain its own chilled DSD system, which is being used to distribute its own products and products like Kevita; of the more than 20 members of the group’s sales team, only some brand-associated employees remain, but those who were working as part of the broader unit have either left the company or been reassigned.

The restructuring took place as a result of a broader productivity review of PepsiCo divisions that followed the departure of several of CEO Indra Nooyi’s top lieutenants, including Deborah Crew, the former president and CEO of North American Nutrition, which ultimately oversaw much of the Naked Emerging Brands group’s mission. Crew left to take over as President and Chief Commercial Officer at RJ Reynolds Tobacco. Several other potential successors left in the fall, including Zein Abdallah, PepsiCo’s president.

Naked Emerging Brands — which is comprised of Naked Juices, Izze sparkling Juice, and O.N.E. Coconut Water — was originally expected to turn into a deal-making unit to rival the Coca-Cola Co’s own Venturing and Emerging Brands group, which has made a name for itself by compiling a portfolio of brands through partnerships and acquisitions. Despite overseeing brands worth more than $800 million in revenue, the group’s sales have been generated through brands that had already been purchased by the snack and beverage giant.

During its three-year run, Naked Emerging Brands has created one partnership — a distribution agreement with growing probiotic drink KeVita — but has not developed as a VC shop and has struggled to define itself within the Pepsi system. The move by PepsiCo to consolidate the unit’s sales force comes at a time when the Coke unit turned its brands over to a centralized VEB team.

Much of the Naked Emerging Brands marketing team remains with the group, although, as with the remaining sales team employees, some marketing specialists have been shuffled to be more tightly affiliated with the brands under the group’s purview rather than the group itself.