October 27, 2017

NE Coke bottler deal includes Rutland distributor

Gov. Phil Scott visits the Colchester plant of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England with Mike Hammond, general manager, and Mike Elmer, director of human resources, during a celebration of the plant's 40th anniversary. PROVIDED PHOTO

The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England has closed a deal with The Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta that includes the purchase of a second distribution center in Vermont, Rutland Coca-Cola.

The New England bottler also owns Burlington Coca-Cola of Colchester.

The deal represents a significant expansion for the Bedford, New Hampshire-based company, which now owns and manages operations in all of New England and several areas of New York state including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany and New York City, and a section of Pennsylvania. The company, which had operated one manufacturing center and 10 sales and distribution centers in Northern New England, has added two manufacturing plants and 19 distribution centers that were formerly part of Coca-Cola Refreshments, a subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company.

“We’re very excited to grow our presence in Vermont. With the two facilities, we have approximately 125 associates in the state and a payroll of $6 million,” said Nick Martin, CCNNE director of public affairs. “It’s a big win for a local New England company.”

CCNNE is not currently planning to hire additional personnel at the Rutland facility, but does plan to add three to five workers in Colchester, Martin said. Rutland has 20 employees, and Colchester, 105.

CCNNE plans to keep the Vermont management. “Our leaders in those facilities are doing a great job, and we have no plans to change the leadership structure in either location,” Martin said. “We’re very invested in Vermont and looking forward to a continued bright future in the state.”

According to Martin, the move tripled both the CCNNE workforce (from 1,380 to 4,000) and the territory served. “In terms of sales volume, we’ll go from selling approximately 26 million cases annually to 82 million cases,” he said. CCNNE plans to keep all of the newly purchased facilities in operation, Martin said.

Over the past year, CCNNE has added several-dozen employees at its Bedford headquarters and added a new office down the street to accommodate the new employees. The primary reason CCNNE expanded, Martin said, was to align with The Coca-Cola Company’s 21st-century beverage partnership model, which is rooted in local ownership of bottling and distribution operations. Part of the long-term plan for the Atlanta company is to sell its company-owned bottling operations in the U.S. to independent operators.

“The Coca-Cola Company is now returning ownership where it belongs, with local entrepreneurs across America,” said Lauren Thompson, a spokesperson for Coca-Cola. “When the process is complete, The Coca-Cola Company will return to its historic role as brand owner and builder, while bottlers will focus on the day-to-day work of making and delivering our beverages. The new model enables a more agile system and aligns our economic interests against the next century, from procurement and production to further diversifying our portfolio, innovating new packaging offerings, and investing in technology and other enhancements to better serve our customers and consumers.”

Both Vermont facilities are sales and distribution centers that warehouse, sell, package and distribute Coke products.

“Being part of the iconic Coca-Cola brand has always been tremendously gratifying,” said CCNNE President Mark Francoeur. “Our hardworking associates are our greatest asset, and I am beyond proud to welcome over 2,600 new people to the CCNNE family.”

“CCNNE has built an impressive reputation as our bottling partner in New England and New York state, and their expansion will only help to deepen their community ties in the region,” said J. Alexander “Sandy” Douglas Jr., president of Coca-Cola North America.

Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Northern New England began as a single bottling operation in Laconia, New Hampshire, in 1977. CCNNE is owned by Kirin Holdings (formerly the Japan Brewery Company), a Japanese holdings group with several major subsidiaries including Kirin Company, an integrated beverages company.

With the expanded territory, CCNNE most likely will change its name. “We are actually in the process of working with a branding firm out of Massachusetts,” Martin said.

CCNNE offers a portfolio of products that includes its namesake Coca-Cola drinks, to Dasani waters, Smartwater, Vitaminwater, Gold Peak teas and coffees, Honest Tea, Powerade sports drinks, Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffees, Minute Maid juices, Zico coconut water, and more.

The Coca-Cola Company is the world’s largest beverage company. Despite declining sales for all carbonated beverages (Fortune Magazine reports sales of carbonated beverages have dropped steadily for the past decade), revenues for The Coca-Cola Company have increased over the past four years, Thompson said, from $9.22 billion net revenues in fiscal 2013 to $10.21 billion in 2016.

“Our business in the U.S. has been growing strongly over the last few years as we have shifted our focus from unit-case volume (gallons) to value (dollars) through smaller, more convenient packaging options like 7.5-ounce mini cans and 8-ounce bottles, and an expanded array of low- and no-calorie offerings,” Thompson said.

Financial terms of the agreement were not available.


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