A business analysis of Wellington-based salad bar has won third place in prestigious international competition.
The Oikos Sustainability Case Writing Competition aims to promote the development of new, high-quality case studies of real-world businesses working in the field of sustainability management and strategy.
The analysis of Kapai New Zealand, by Dr Helen Tregigda and Dr Kate Kearins of AUT, and Dr Eva Collins of the University of Waikato Management School, focused on how two young entrepreneurs went about growing small business, while retaining New Zealand identity, social consciousness and an environmental awareness.
Kapai’s cofounders Justin Lester and James Irvine came back from stint overseas with the aim of establishing their business as leading nationwide retailer of healthy fast food at an affordable price. Their first store opened in Wellington in 2006, with another store opening less than year later. There’s also franchise store operating in Lower Hutt. The Kapai stores’ green and brown décor reflects New Zealand environmental theme, and all produce is locally sourced as far as possible. Prices are set so no single item costs more than the minimum wage hourly rate.
The academics’ prize-winning analysis focused on Kapai New Zealand’s options for growth in an industry dominated by large firms. Should the company pursue the franchising route or look at other growth options?
“The Kapai case is great teaching tool,” says Eva Collins. “It challenges business students to look at both strategic and operational issues, and at the tensions between growth and being sustainable. Plus students love this case because Justin and James and the concept are all ‘fun’.”
She says there’s been good uptake both in New Zealand and overseas, with Darden College, one of the top five business schools in the United States, including the Kapai case in its MBA programme.

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