Coca-Cola bottler attacks Cokes innovation drive

CokeCoca-Cola has been slammed by its biggest bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) over its lack of innovation.

CCE chief executive John Brock has criticised the drinks giant for not keeping up with consumer demand and not having “the right portfolio”, with “no indication that it was planning to change”.

He adds: “We weren’t doing the kinds of things we needed to do as fast as we needed to do them.”

The remarks are likely to cause tension between Coca-Cola and CCE, which are understood to already be frayed following the bottler’s distribution deal last year with top-selling tea-maker Arizona, a rival to Coke.

Observers believed that the deal signified CCE was sending a message to Coke that it would start looking elsewhere for new products.

Brock adds: “When I joined a year ago,we were not dealing from positions of strength in either company. I don’t think the relationship was particularly strong.”

Coke has recently made inroads to address its reliance on carbonated drinks and move towards healthier products.
It acquired tea-maker Fuze for around $225m (£115m) earlier this year, and has also bought Glaceau, the vitamin-water-maker, for $4.1bn (£2.08bn).

Brock admits that he has seen recent improvements. He adds: “Now a number of things have changed. Some of the people at the Coca-Cola company have changed.”

CCE is responsible for the manufacturing and distribution of Coke products in the UK.

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