When Kopparberg owner and CEO Peter Bronsman was a young man, he was swept into the sea while serving on a merchant navy ship. Alone in the dark waters for two hours without a life jacket and with a broken arm, Bronsman made a vow to turn his life around. Returning to Sweden, he did just that. Today, he is the owner of one of Sweden’s largest breweries, Kopparberg. The LINK caught up with him to hear more about following your dreams, how to get others to believe in you and what makes you change your life in the middle of the South China Sea.
As soon as he could, Bronsman returned to Gothenburg where he set up a business with his brother, importing beer brands from all over the world. Then, in 1994, he saw an advertisement about an old brewery in the small town of Kopparberg, central Sweden that was up for sale. Bronsman felt that this was the right next step to take. Arriving at the bank with a great idea but very little else, he was able to satisfy the manager that this was a winning venture.
“Since both my brother and I were so sure it would work, I guess he was too,” says Bronsman.
Using some savings from his import business, coupled with the bank loan, Bronsman managed to scrape together enough capital to buy the brewery despite many cautionary remarks from those in the know.
For Bronsman it was simple, however.
“This was a dream that I was able to fulfil,” he says.
When the brothers took it over, the brewery had been used bottling local mineral water, said to be very beneficial for the health. However, the brothers immediately tracked down the old brew master and rehired him to take up operations again. Starting up brewing beer, they soon started exploring cider ranges, using an old recipe dating back to the 1930s.
However, with Sweden’s ban on alcohol advertising and promotions, trying to market a new alcoholic product in Sweden is no easy venture. And this is where Bronsman and his brother’s disruptive marketing strategies set them on the road to even bigger successes.
The brothers thought long and hard about how they would reach their audience without violating Swedish laws on alcohol promotion and with practically no marketing resources. They asked themselves where people would most like to use their products. The answer was pretty simple; people would like to drink cider while on holiday. It didn’t take long before Kopparberg products were on sale across the Mediterranean, from Ibiza to Rhodes. And when the holidaymakers returned back home – they still wanted Kopparberg products.
However, to Bronsman continuing to grow the popularity of Kopparberg Cider, and getting people to love it, just means following a very easy course of action.
“As we always have and always will – producing products people love. It is simply a great tasting product.”
Bronsman promises that the company will continue to develop, identifying and producing products that customers want. If he has learnt one thing from his early career in the merchant navy it is to never give up and his best advice to budding entrepreneurs is to believe in their ideas no matter what.
Kopparberg is today one of the biggest breweries in Sweden, exporting its ciders to over 30 countries. Last year, the company sold 75 million litres and made £225m revenue. In 2013, Peter Bronsman was named Sweden’s Entrepreneur of the Year Award by Ernst & Young. In 2016, he will be awarded the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the UK’s Brand Sweden Award, at the 110th Jubilee Celebration at Tate Modern In September.
Bronsman has come a long way since that night in the cold and dark South China Sea. However, what he is most proud of is not his bold dreams, his disruptive ideas or even his perseverance.
“I’m most proud of the people that work and have worked for Kopparberg over the years. Together we’ve made Kopparberg what it is today,” he told The LINK.