Academic journal article Business Case Journal

Kapai New Zealand: Eat Your Greens!

Academic journal article Business Case Journal

Kapai New Zealand: Eat Your Greens!

Article excerpt

This case was prepared by Helen Tregidga and Kate Kearins, both from Auckland University of Technology and Eva Collins from the University of Waikato. The views presented here are those of the case authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Society for Case Research. The authors' views are based on their own professional judgments. Copyright [c] 2010 by the Society for Case Research and the authors. No part of the work may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means without the written permission of the Society for Case Research


Two energetic young Kiwis (1) came home from overseas to start a business. By August 2007, the well-traveled 28-year-olds, James Irvine and Justin Lester (see Figure 1) had opened their second salad store in downtown Wellington and had plans for more. They wanted to establish Kapai New Zealand as a "leading nationwide retailer of healthy fast-food" (Kapai New Zealand, 2007a, p.4).

The idea of going into business together had been a long-time dream for these soccer-playing mates from school. James, a geography graduate, took care of Kapai's day-to-day operations. Justin, a qualified lawyer, retained his day job for a property management company and worked after-hours on business development. Proud of their national heritage and having learned from their overseas experience, the Kapai boys wanted to grow a strong New Zealand business they could take to the world. They had little doubt that the Kapai salad store business concept was good enough--but were debating how they should continue to roll it out, with whom, how fast and where next?

Developing a Distinctly New Zealand Business Concept

James and Justin came up with the Kapai salad store business concept in August 2004. They adopted the name Kapai, a term originally used by New Zealand's indigenous Maori, and now in more common use among New Zealanders, meaning "good," "well done." The name Kapai evoked a relaxed national attitude to things, suggesting everything will be ok. James and Justin's hope was that everything would be ok--if people ate healthy food, presented by a business that really did have the customers' and the country's interests at heart.

The Kapai boys had returned to New Zealand, aware of a gap in the market. Their business plan pointed to:

the lack of healthy, reasonably-priced food in the New Zealand market. We recognized that while New Zealand culinary restaurant and cafe trends had changed dramatically over the past decade, the fast-food market had largely remained stagnant. At home New Zealanders had access to and were making use of some of the freshest, highest quality produce in the world. But within our business districts the healthy options were restricted, at best. We sought to change this by bringing some hearty greens into the mainstream fast-food market (Kapai New Zealand, 2007a, p. 3).

Justin had worked in downtown Wellington and knew what was available, "and it was pretty much stodgy.... You can get sushi, and outside of sushi there wasn't a lot on offer." James wanted to "create a New Zealand iconic food outlet" that was both healthy and unique. Justin reflected:

   We've got McDonalds and Subway, and we've got what the rest of the
   world's got. Great--but not that interesting. Whereas with Kapai,
   rather than mimic what other people are doing, we wanted to create
   something of our own.

Kapai was based on the values of great food which was made in New Zealand for New Zealanders (see Figure 2). The Kapai concept involved a New Zealand identity, a social consciousness, and an environmental awareness.

Figure 2: Kapai Values


Kapai values determine the way our stores are operated. To ensure the
ongoing success of Kapai we focus on the following:

Great Food

Our primary concern is the health and the welfare of New
Zealanders. We aim to promote healthy living and fitness by
increasing awareness amongst all New Zealanders of the value of
eating real food produced in our own backyard. … 
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