GOLD Coast-based playboy entrepreneur Travers Beynon has developed a raunchy reputation as the Candyman, but he is now using this hedonistic persona to grab a foothold in the European retail tobacco market.
Beynon, who controls the FREECHOICE tobacco franchise, has been blitzing Germany with his own brand of guilty pleasure over the past year, making a splash in the country's biggest circulation daily news publication, Bild.
He has also captured broad media attention in Italy, Turkey and Peru.
Branded by Bild as 'Protz-Brocken', which translates to Swanky Chunks, the Candyman has fascinated Germans with his outlandish behavior that often features semi-naked women in provocative poses.
The Candyman has even featured on two of Germany's top-rated lifestyle programs, which have sent film crews to his Candy Shop Mansion on the Gold Coast to film stories, and he is also the lead feature of this month's edition of German Playboy.
Now Beynon, whose alter ego has amassed more than 550,000 Instagram followers and led British GQ to judge him ahead of rival US Instagram playboy Dan Bilzerian, plans to use his profile to capitalise on tougher smoking regulations in Europe.
Beynon is planning to add German franchisees to the 255 FREECHOICE outlets he controls in Australia, and he says the Candyman also plans to open doors to the broader European market.
"I love the German character and their sense of humour, so of course I'm happy that the Candyman is appreciated over there," Beynon says.
"It's part of the German sense of humour to take larger-than-life characters to heart, and I connect with them as I lived in Munich and Hamburg and visited Koln and Düsseldorf frequently while I was modeling in Europe."
Beynon says FREECHOICE is 'in the box seat' to help the European tobacco industry manage plain packaging laws that have been in place in Australia for more than five years.
"We have the operational smarts around point-of-sale and packaging laws," he says.
"FREECHOICE has been navigating Australia's stringent packaging and point-of-sale laws for many years and we have the relationships now in Europe to capitalise on that expertise."
Beynon says his television appearances have led to a surge in inquiries for FREECHOICE stores in Germany, and he says he is in advanced negotiations to open his first stores there.
"Europe's a much larger market and a region we're having a very close tactical look at," Beynon says.
"FREECHOICE is not just a retail brand, it also has a personality through the Candyman persona and that personality has connected with an international audience."
While Beynon concedes he doesn't smoke, he gets hot under the collar on the subject of restricting personal freedoms. Drawing on the free-wheeling Candyman within, Beynon rails against restrictions on all levels.
"If you take away people's choice to make their own decisions, there is no telling where it will end," he says.
"It's ridiculous to think we can live a rich and fulfilling life without doing things that are bad for our health; it's inhuman not to have vices.
"Girls and lack of sleep are more dangerous to my health than smoking cigarettes, but that's my vice and my choice, a free choice."
Meanwhile, Beynon has taken advantage of a decision by his major Australian rival TSG, formerly Tobacco Station Group, to sell its business late last year.
Last December he put out a call to TSG franchisees to jump ship and join the FREECHOICE network ahead of the sale.
After using his Instagram account to speak directly with TSG franchisees, Beynon says this has led to 'several TSG stores badge over to FREECHOICE'.
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