Caitlin Fitzsimmons Online editor

Caitlin covers social media, marketing and technology and is BRW's social media editor. She has worked as a journalist in Sydney, London and San Francisco, writing for titles including The Guardian and The Australian Financial Review.

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Why Boost Juice founder Janine Allis won’t sell her business

Published 08 March 2014 00:01, Updated 10 March 2014 10:58

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Why Boost Juice founder Janine Allis won’t sell her business

Boost Juice founder Janine Allis is happy with her work-life balance. Photo: Luis Enrique Ascui

Janine Allis gets up at five o’clock every morning and drives to the centre of Melbourne for her ashtanga yoga class.

Her New Year’s resolution for 2014 was to practise yoga six days a week and so far she is keeping that promise and reaping the rewards.

“I have my coffee on my way and my juice when I leave and I find that if I don’t do it, the day just falls apart,” says Allis, who is 24th on the 2014 BRW Rich Women list. “It’s not just exercise, it’s a holistic lifestyle choice.”

The Allis lifestyle also includes three days a week with her business, quality time with family and friends, and learning to ride her beloved horses without a bridle and bit.

She describes it as a “great balance”, but she has only found it in the past year or two. Before that she was working too hard.

She founded Boost Juice Bars 14 years ago and describes it as “a bit like one of my children”.

At the time, she had one child in primary school plus a baby and toddler at home. With her husband Jeff working a demanding corporate job, Allis says Boost only took off because her mother helped look after the children and run the household.

“I was very much in a bubble,” Allis recalls. “I had three little kids, a needy husband and I was running this business and that was it, there was nothing more in my life. I always had a toy box in my office … and in a lot of meetings, I had a child either on my knee or in the corner playing.”

Those kids are now 23, 16 and 15 and Janine and Jeff also have a five-year-old. Boost now has hundreds of stores in 11 countries. The umbrella company Retail Zoo also includes chains Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill, Cibo Espresso and Hatch, with total turnover of $223 million last financial year.

Two years in, Flight Centre founder and BRW Rich 200 member Geoff Harris came knocking after spotting a Boost Juice Bar in a shopping centre. Despite Allis spilling coffee on his diary at their first meeting, he became an investor and mentor.

Harris describes her as “bright, honest, respectful and … a typical ‘have a go’ Aussie” and says there was not one negative word between them in eight years as co-directors.

Allis created Retail Zoo as an umbrella company for Boost and bought Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill as a separate subsidiary. In 2010, private equity group The Riverside Company paid more than $65 million for a 65 per cent stake of Retail Zoo. Boost now has hundreds of stores in 11 countries, Salsa’s recently reached 50, and Retail Zoo also owns Cibo Espresso and Hatch.

The Allis family still owns 25 per cent of Retail Zoo, which last financial year had a total turnover of $223 million. Despite reports Riverside is considering a public listing or selling to another buyer, Allis is adamant that she will keep her share.

“I can honestly say that Jeff and I are not looking for a complete exit no matter what,” Allis says. “I have a pretty nice life now; I do my yoga, I have my mental stimulation through the business, I have my family, it’s a great balance. If I sold my business, I could have some money in the bank, but really I’m happy with the life I have.”

Now that she has found that elusive work-life balance, she doesn’t want to give it up.

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