Coke Great Britain sales impacted by shift to smaller bottles

Coca-Cola says sparkling beverage volume sales decreased by double digits in Great Britain in its first quarter as it stood back from heavy discounting seen by rivals and changed the size of its bottles.

Coke bottles
Coke GB sales impacted by switch to smaller bottles.

In March Coca-Cola rolled out the biggest single change to its take-home packaging portfolio in more than 30 years by transitioning its Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Coca-Cola Zero 2l bottles to a new 1.75l size. The rest of the range comprises a 1l, 1.25l and 4×1.5l bottles.

At the time of relaunch Coca-Cola said the new formats would better cater for a broader range of ”consumption occasions and shopping missions”, as consumers increasingly shift towards frequent small basket shops. The move was and continues to be backed by an outdoor, in-store and digital advertising campaign. 

Coca-Cola does not strip out detailed results for its Great Britain business, but volume sales across Europe fell 4 per cent year on year in the three months to 28 March. Revenue grew 10 per cent to $1.3bn (£777m), while operating income increased 5 per cent $719m (£430m).

The company said its sales in Great Britain were also impacted by its bottling partner maintaining “disciplined pricing” in the period.

Coca-Cola said volumes in developed markets across the globe were also impacted by the shift in the Easter holiday from the first quarter last year to the second quarter this year.

Globally, net revenues declined 4 per cent year on year to $10.6bn (£6.3bn). Operating income fell 1 per cent to $2.4bn (£1.4bn).

Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola chairman and chief executive, said the company is making “meaningful progress” across the five strategic marketing priorities it set out last quarter to restore its sales momentum following successive quarters of revenue decline last year.

Those plans include: accelerating sparking growth, led by brand Coca-Cola; strategically expanding the profitable still portfolio; increasing media investments by maximising systems optimisation; making improvements to point of sale; and investing in the next generation of leaders.

Kent adds: “We are firmly committed to further advancing our growth trajectory through 2014 as we are accelerating marketing investments in our brands and focusing relentlessly on marketplace execution in partnership with our bottling partners around the world.

“In the near term, we are committed to delivering on our performance goals and generating increased share owner value through improved productivity efforts and targeted investments.”