Lion New Zealand has entered into a strategic partnership with Auckland beverage start-up Vista, adding the naturally flavoured sparkling water to its portfolio of non-alcoholic beverages.

Lion’s newly signed sales and merchandising agreement with Vista, effective 1 March 2019, will see Lion driving the brand’s growth in the grocery, gas and convenience channels, while the founders continue to manage day-to-day operations.

The deal will bring Vista into The Drinks Collective, Lion’s non-alcoholic beverage division, where it will sit alongside brands such as Höpt Soda, Mac’s Soda, Good Buzz Kombucha, and Six Barrel Soda.

The partnership with Lion comes just three weeks after Vista closed a large investment deal with property developer and investor Kurt Gibbons. In his deal with Vista, Gibbons committed to a lump sum cash injection and an interest-free line of credit in return for a 25 per cent stake in the burgeoning business.

Stefan Gray, general manager of The Drinks Collective, said that the deal with Vista was part of a wider strategy to diversify and continue to grow its portfolio of healthier adult brands in the non-alcoholic beverage space. “The wellness trend is going mainstream and consumers are increasingly looking for healthier beverage choices. We’re always evolving to ensure we facilitate changing social occasions and consumer needs and bringing brands like Vista into the fold is one such example.

“We believe that Vista has massive potential. It’s a unique product that fills a large gap in the market. We’re looking forward to working with the team to grow distribution and cement Vista’s foothold in the beverage industry,” he added.

Vista’s 27-year-old founders, Scott Day, Adam Sorensen and Russell Hopper, became friends while attending school together on Auckland’s North Shore. Scott remarked that the founders were honoured and excited to be partnering with Lion.

“We were blown away when Lion approached us and expressed an interest in adding Vista to its portfolio. This partnership will enable us to take the business to the next level,” said Scott.

“The deal will allow us to achieve our growth goals and make our vision for the brand a reality. For a small Kiwi start-up like us, being backed by Lion less than 18 months after launching is a huge achievement.”