Woolworths axes cola to go Virgin

Woolworths is ditching its own-label American Cola in favour of Virgin Cola, as the soft drinks comp any steps up its efforts to increase distribution.

Asda’s soft drinks buyer Richard Hodgson confirms the supermarket chain is also in negotiations with Virgin and that it will be making a decision on whether to stock the range “within the next two weeks”.

Woolworths will now sell Virgin Cola, Diet Cola, Lips Orange and Lips Lemon & Lime.

Tesco originally had exclusive rights to sell Virgin soft drinks in the absence of its own brand, but the Virgin range is now sold in Iceland, the Co-op and Somerfield.

A senior Virgin insider says negotiations are underway with a number of other high street retailers.

A spokeswoman at Safeway, which stocks its own Select brand, refuses to comment on whether the chain is considering selling Virgin lines. Sainsbury’s, which sells its own Classic Cola range, also declines to comment.

Virgin’s expansion will be backed by a 5m ad campaign through Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe, which will launch next month.

The move into Woolworths will be followed by monthly promotions, the first of which will be a “buy one, get one free” voucher in teenage magazine Sugar.

“One of the reasons why Woolworths was so impressed with Virgin was the amount of promotions lined up for us,” says a spokesman for the chain.

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