Virgin buys out Cott’s cola stake

Virgin has bought out food and drinks producer Cott’s remaining share in Virgin’s UK cola-making business.

The Virgin Cola Company, formerly a joint 50-50 venture with Cott in the UK, is now solely owned by the Virgin Trading Company.

James Kydd, marketing director of the Virgin Cola Company, says: “This latest move shows just how committed Virgin is in the UK and internationally to building a major cola brand. It’s going to make marketing easier as we have total control.”

He would not say how much Virgin Trading Company paid for Cott’s share of the UK joint venture.

The two companies teamed up more than three years ago to launch Virgin Cola. Cott later scaled back its share in the joint venture with Virgin worldwide, except in Britain.

Simon Lester, managing director of Cott Beverages, a subsidiary of Cott Corp, says: “Our business is to produce soft drinks under other peoples’ names. We don’t want to be in head-on competition with Coke and Pepsi, and I think that’s something Virgin is happy with.”

Cott will continue to concentrate on developing its global retailer branded carbonated soft drink business, as witnessed by its acquisition of Hero drinks last year.

It will continue to provide syrup to Virgin and to act as co-packer, while Virgin has set up its own distribution network using an outside company.

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