Nigel Holland, Regional President, Tata Global Beverages

Tom Holmes interviews Nigel Holland, Regional President UK, Russia , Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) at Tata Global Beverages

Tom Holmes

Founder & Chairman



Tom Holmes interviews Nigel Holland, Regional President UK, Russia , Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) at Tata Global Beverages.

With a degree and MBA in Economics Nigel joined the Tetley Group in 1998 as Marketing Controller, having previously worked for a number of leading FMCG brands, including Scottish & Newcastle Breweries, Kraft Jacobs Suchard and Boots Healthcare International.

Nigel became Marketing Director and in 2002 he was appointed Commercial Director for the UK business, which later extended to responsibility for Western Europe and Australia.

In 2008, with the formation of Tata Global Beverages Nigel became Regional President for UK & Africa. He joined the management team in June 2011 and is now responsible for the UK, Europe, Middle East & Africa. Nigel is also Executive Director and Chairman of Joekel Tea Packers Ltd (SA); as well as an Executive Director of the UK Tea Council.


Creativebrief: As Regional President of Tata Global Beverages for EMEA what is your primary focus?

Nigel Holland: My primary focus is to generate sustainable profitable growth across a number of very large, complex and fragmented markets – including the UK, Russia, Europe, Middle East and Africa. This growth achieved by taking a consumer-led marketing approach to maximise the development of our key brands.

Creativebrief: What attracted you to working with Tata and what do you enjoy most about your job?

Nigel Holland: Tata is a very different and inspirational place to work, largely because it puts as much emphasis on people as it does profit. The Tata business has been hugely successful and is in strong growth.

In terms of my enjoyment, the best thing about the role is the variety of things that I get involved with. Notably, deriving strategy and, at the same time, executing tactical business plans. Additionally, working with some good people. 

Creativebrief: Your career has spanned TATA, Scottish & Newcastle Breweries, Kraft Jacobs Suchard and Boots Healthcare International, what have been the high points?

Nigel Holland: I have been lucky enough to work on some great brands. In particular, Newcastle Brown Ale, Kenco, Strepsils, Nurofen and now Tetley. All these brands have had very strong brand propositions which have enabled them to thrive and grow in very competitive market places. 

Creativebrief: Along the way, have there been individual marketers who have impressed and inspired you?

Nigel Holland: In truth, there haven’t been any particular individual marketers who have inspired me. My inspiration has come from other sources. Initially, my main inspiration was from my father who taught me the importance of education and rigour. More latterly, if I am honest, my inspiration through my career has come from a fear of failure.

Creativebrief: Which marketing campaigns are you particularly proud of and why?

Nigel Holland: I am pleased to say that all the main advertising campaigns I have been involved with have been very long running and enduring. Campaigns that spring to mind include the Nurofen “targeted pain relief” campaign and the Strepsils “medicine for sore throats” advertising. 

Creativebrief: What are the main challenges for your sector/category over the next 12 months?

Nigel Holland: The key challenge for the tea market currently in the UK is to stimulate demand. For many years the tea market has been in volume decline, driven largely by a failure to recruit younger consumers into the category, recognising that people take their drinking habits with them through life. In order to combat this trend, innovation must become central focusing in particular on the health benefits of tea, improved convenience and greater perceived product indulgence. 

New creative work – Channel 5 Family Film sponsorship idents which are breaking now.

Our strategy

Aiming to be the ‘good for you’ global leader, Tata Global Beverages is a business with rich traditions and big ambition. As a consolidated group it is already the second-largest tea company in the world, we are on a journey to become the global leader in branded ‘good for you’ beverages.

We have a big ambition

We’re growing fast – focusing on ‘disruptive’ innovation that’s changing the way consumers enjoy beverages, by growing our brands and investing in new and exciting opportunities to expand our business.

We have come a long way

We’ve already come a long way – from domestic Indian tea grower to global business in less than 10 years. Over 90% of our current sales from branded products and 70 per cent of our Group turnover is generated outside India.

Going global

We’re building a truly global business with 65% of the consolidated revenues coming from markets outside India, a single Executive Office to co-ordinate our key functions and three Regional Presidents running our consumer-facing businesses. We’re working hard to build a shared company culture and align every one of our 3,000 employees behind a clear strategy to deliver sustainable success.

Our strategy focuses on product innovation, building global brands, success in new channels and more countries, plus greater efficiency.

  • Brands – we’re building key global brands, including Tetley and Tata Tea, plus exciting new regional brands such as Tetley Infusions and Good Earth
  • Products and ‘disruptive’ innovation – we’re challenging and changing the way customers think about beverages and enjoy them
  • Sustainability – we’re aiming for long-term success, so sustainability makes business sense. We’ve identified four key issues to drive us forward: Ethical Sourcing, Climate Change, Packaging and Water.
  • Process – our new global information systems will help us improve efficiency and share knowledge, today and in future
  • Distribution – we’ve moving into new markets and new channels to become truly global
  • People – thanks to our simplified global management system, emerging culture and ‘talent’ strategy, we’re making Tata Global Beverages ‘the place to be’

Creativebrief: How do you see the media landscape unfolding in the next 5 years?

Nigel Holland: I am no expert on the media landscape, however, it seems clear to me that media will continue to fragment and it will become increasingly difficult for advertisers to hit large groups of consumers in one go. Additionally, of course, the whole digital explosion will continue and technical progress will accelerate. 

Creativebrief: What challenges do you face managing day-to-day agency relationships?

Nigel Holland: In my current role, I no longer manage day-to-day agency relationships. My main pre-occupation now is an overseeing role and occasional fire-fighting! However, getting brilliant creativity utilising the best people in the agency remains the key challenge.

Creativebrief: Do you prefer to use an ‘integrated agency’ approach or specialist agencies by individual discipline?

Nigel Holland: Currently our considered thinking is to use specialist agencies as opposed to integrated agencies in the belief that greater expertise will prevail.

Creativebrief: You recently put your Tetley creative account up for review, what did you learn from the process?

Nigel Holland: In the recent Tetley pitch process I suppose I learnt three main things:

  • Great strategic thinking and the discovery of a great creative idea does not necessarily translate into great advertising execution.
  • Agency/advertiser chemistry is very important.  Not having been involved in drawing up the short list and meeting the agencies for the first time at the pitch presentation itself, I quickly was able to sense the temperature of the relationship.
  • A pitch definitely makes it clear which agencies really want to work on your business and which agencies are less hungry.

Creativebrief: How often do you look at new agencies or review your roster?

Nigel Holland: Here at Tata Global Beverages there is no set time frame for agency review.  Agency pitches/reviews are generally carried out when the brand teams feel that creative ideas within the incumbent agency have dried up.

Creativebrief: What would they have to do / demonstrate?

Nigel Holland: Not knowing much better, I still believe that the traditional “pitch” is a very effective way of validating an agency’s creative potency and fit for the advertiser’s business.  Not only is the pitch in my opinion effective, it is also very enjoyable for the client.  Not least, because you get to meet a multitude of talented people, get exposed to fresh thinking and it acts as a catalyst for rigorous thinking.

For large communication challenges, personally I wouldn’t award an agency business without a pitch. The pitch itself critically enables the client to appreciate an agency’s strategic coherency, its creative potency, the style fit and value for money. 

Creativebrief: And what does the future look like for your brands?

Nigel Holland: Our brands are our most valuable assets and we are cherishing them, nurturing them and ultimately aim to grow them.
We’re on a mission to make the world a better place through life-enhancing sustainable hydration. We’ve got the brands we need to do it – and the distribution channels to meet global demand.
With a fantastic portfolio of brands and products that we are intensely passionate about, we delight millions of consumers across the world with great tasting beverages every single day.


“Our brands are our most valuable assets and we are cherishing them, nurturing them and ultimately aim to grow them.”

Tetley is enjoyed in 70 countries worldwide and is the second largest tea brand globally thanks to its commitment to innovating and being relevant to the consumer. For all these reasons it is also market leader in Canada. In the UK, Tetley is the brand leader in Decaffeinated tea, and Tetley Green is the fastest-growing green tea brand. Innovations include the launch of Blend of Both in the UK, Infusions (a liquid ‘Real Brew’ tea mix for water) in Canada, and the very latest new product Chai Latte in Australia, which is an indulgent tea drink, made with real spices and low in caffeine but high in taste!

Tata Tea
Tata Tea enjoys almost legendary status and is a household name in India. It is the market leader in India and has strong brands in its portfolio such as Tata Tea Gold, Tata Tea Premium, Kannan Devan, Chakra Gold, Agni and Gemini. Tata Tea celebrated its 25th year in 2012, amidst widespread publicity. But it’s not just about tea. The company also promotes social awakening and action through its landmark ‘Jaago Re’ marketing campaigns. This year the focus has been on gender bias against women. The ‘Power of 49’ campaign marks a new phase in Tata Tea’s iconic ‘Jaago Re’ series of campaigns. Women constitute 49% of the voter base in India. The objective of this campaign is to awaken women to the power within them and encourage them to exercise their right to vote at the next general elections. 

Good Earth
Good Earth has gone from strength to strength since its inception as a herbal and speciality tea business on the US west coast. It produces a wide range of premium teas of exceptional flavour, based on top quality ingredients, and has a strong commitment to sustainability, producing a 100% GM free range. The brand synonymous with bold flavors launched a marketing campaign last year that champions the boldness of its products. The concept of ‘Tea Untamed’ is being used to capture the essence of Good Earth underpinned by the launch of two new tea flavors – Cocoa Tango and Sweetly Twisted. 

Eight O’Cloock Coffee
Renowned for “brewing memories for generations” Eight O’clock Coffee was recently named one of America’s greatest brands. The 4th largest coffee brand by volume in the US, the brand has recently increased its relevance to consumers even further with eye-catching new packaging.

Himalayan’s ‘Live Natural’ brand philosophy and unique packaging makes it a premium ‘lifestyle’ mineral water brand in India. The brand enjoys an aspirational equity among consumers and has the potential of truly becoming an international and iconic brand and the recent re-launch has further strengthened its brand equity.

Grand is one of Russia’s leading beverage brands, known for its great value coffee and tea products, offering ‘refinement’. Grand coffee has recently been relaunched with new packaging and a new advertising campaign highlighting the brand’s ‘Charming Aroma’.

Vitax is a well-established and well-recognised brand in Poland, where consumers choose it for its originally flavoured fruit and herbal teas, all blended with great care using high quality ingredients. It’s currently building market share in the green tea segment and strengthening its position in the fruit tea category.

Jemča started back in 1958 as a tea packhouse in the small South-Moravian town of Jemnice, 200km south east of Prague and is now the leading tea brand in the Czech Republic with a strong portfolio of black, green and fruit and herbal teas.

Tata Coffee
Tata Coffee is one of the world’s largest integrated coffee businesses. It has a hand in every aspect of the coffee making process, starting with the growing and curing of coffee and tea to the manufacturing and marketing of its premium coffee brands. It is a significant contributor towards the growth and development of Indian coffee. In a key partnership milestone between Starbucks Coffee Company and Tata Coffee Limited, the two companies inaugurated a roasting and packaging plant in Kushalnagar in Coorg, Karnataka earlier this year. This world-class facility enables roasting and packaging of green coffee beans for Starbucks stores in India. As a first step, the companies have developed the Indian Espresso Roast, which is a hallmark feature of Starbucks stores in India and highlights the quality of locally sourced coffee. 

Since 1945 Laager Rooibos, managed by Joekels Tea Packers (Pty) has been one of South Africa’s most popular rooibos (redbush) tea brands. It is the 2nd largest selling brand in South Africa and has been enjoyed for generations. The brand has recently launched their first Rooibos Cappuccino, and milk shake in instant form called Laager SHAKE4KIDZ.

The exciting and innovative California-based brand ACTIVATE uses a unique and patented design in which vitamins and nutrients are stored as powder in a chamber inside the cap which are released into water when the cap is twisted. The brand has recently launched their first-ever traditional marketing activity – a double-decker bus signage and health club ads with bounce-back coupons driving consumers to locations where Activate is sold.

Tata Water Plus
Tata Water Plus has been brought to the Indian market through NourishCo Beverages Ltd, our Joint Venture with PepsiCo India. Tata Water Plus is the only water of its kind in India. Tata Water Plus is nutritionally rich and goes beyond quenching thirst to promoting everyday good health. It looks and tastes like normal water but with the added goodness of nutrients that are bio-available.

Tata Gluco Plus
Tata Gluco Plus has been brought to the Indian market through NourishCo Beverages Ltd, our Joint Venture with PepsiCo India. Tata Gluco Plus is a glucose-based, lemon-flavoured drink in a unique cup format that provides instant energy to consumers. It offers the benefit of glucose energy, mineral salts and iron that provide instant refreshment and recharge.

Tata Starbucks
Tata Global Beverages has always believed in creating memorable beverage experiences for consumers. Our joint venture with Starbucks is yet another strong expression of this belief. Through Tata Starbucks, we can proudly offer the legendary Starbucks coffee experience, backed by the trust of the Tata name, to Indian consumers. The inaugural flagship store, branded ‘Starbucks Coffee – a Tata alliance’ opened in October 19, 2012 in Horniman Circle, Mumbai. Since then this 50:50 JV has expanded in New Delhi, India as well with many more Starbucks stores planned throughout the country. Our partnership with Starbucks is all about serving the perfect cup of coffee and Indian Espresso Roast sourced locally through the coffee sourcing and roasting agreement with Tata Coffee is a hallmark of all Starbucks stores in this market, highlighting the quality espresso available in Indian. We also jointly offer a premium tea product branded Tata Tazo and the stores carry Himalayan mineral water.