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Clearly Canadian makes a comeback

Entrepreneur says production is now in the hands of Canadian and American retailers

Robert Khan says he was a huge fan of the Clearly Canadian line of carbonated waters when he was a kid growing up in the United States. Now the entrepreneur is working to revive the discontinued brand.

"I grew up on Clearly Canadian, I loved it," Khan told Canadian Grocer this week from Ohio, while en route to meet with his partners and perspective investors in Toronto.

"It has incredible potential.  I mean, the brand is already built (and) has a huge following."

After buying Clearly Canadian in 2012, three years after production ended, Khan and his partners repositioned the brand as a premium packaged beverage.

They notably reinstituted the original teardrop-blue bottles that were the brand's trademark signature when it was launched in British Columbia in 1988.

It went on to become one of North America’s most recognizable beverages, appearing in Seinfeld,Friends, Beverly Hills 90210 during its heyday in the 1990s, when annual sales topped $150 million.

Sales tanked in the 2000s following management and production miscues, none more than a decision to switch to plastic bottles.

Since early 2014, the new owners have used the Internet to create a buzz in the brand's revival.

They notably promised to restart production if more than 25,000 cases of 12 bottles for $29.99 each were pre-ordered on

More than 30,000 cases were ordered by some 12,000 nostalgic fans by late last year.  Those cases, however, did not require advance payment, only when the beverage is delivered.

According to Khan, glass bottle production began last month.  The owners are now trying to finalize both funding and manufacturing deals with the hope that beverage production will begin in July.

Khan said the goal is to get cases of Clearly Canadian into 13,000 grocery stores on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border in 2016.

"It's entirely in the hands of Bay Street (and) Canadian and American retailers to make it happen," he told Canadian Grocer.

"I'm confident it will.  I mean, this brand is already built, and it has an international fan base.  It's already a hit."

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