The Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC) has finally announced the completion of its acquisition of the Austrian mineral water company Römerquelle. The acquisition involves production facilities at Edelstal and Pöttsching and the mineral water and wellness brands Römerquelle and Markusquelle.
"This acquisition is a significant further commitment to our operations in Austria. Römerquelle and Markusquelle have great potential for continued growth in the rapidly expanding bottled water and wellness drinks segments," said Doros Constantinou, managing director of CCHBC. "The addition of this quality water brand isan excellent example of CCHBC's strategy to broaden the selection of non-alcoholicbeverages that we offer to our consumers."
CCHBC provisionally acquired the Austrian bottled water group in July, but this was subject to approval by the regulatory authorities. Irial Finan, managing director of CCHBC, said at the time that the acquisition would reinforce the company's existing operations in Austria, with the two well-known brands having great potential for continued growth in the rapidly expanding bottled water and wellness drinks segments.
The two companies have a long history of working together, according to Anton Wandl, managing director of Romerquelle. The water brand already benefits from CCHBC's extensive distribution network. In many ways, the acquisition is the logical extension of this long-standing business partnership.
The company has been steadily expanding its range of complementary products, in particular mineral water brands, including the acquisition of Poland's Multivita earlier this year and Romanian brand Dorna late last year. The company has even diversified into the snack food market - in October CCHBC announced that it was in negotiations with the Greek potato chip producer Tsakiris - the second biggest brand in the Greek market with a share of around 10 per cent - with a view to an eventual takeover.
The latest acquisition comes after the delivery of strong financial results during the first nine months of the year. For example, the company reported a 27 per cent growth in operating profit (EBIT) and a 13 per cent increase in EBITDA. Both of the company's newly acquired water businesses, Valser in Switzerland and Dorna in Romania, continued to deliver solid results. In the first nine months of 2003, they contributed approximately 3 per cent to volume growth and 2 per cent to EBITDA growth.
However, while most of Europe basked in the warm summer weather, some key countries within the emerging market segment, especially Russia, had a poor summer. This is reflected in poor third quarter volume growth of 10 per cent.
Coca-Cola HBC is one of the world's largest bottlers of products of The Coca-Cola Company and has operations in 26 countries serving a population of more than 500 million people.