Coca-Cola Enterprises CEO John Brock says that GSK’s decision to start a strategic review of Ribena and Lucozade is an ‘interesting development’, while the firm plans to relaunch Vanilla Coke in Great Britain this year.
While admitting that CCE had lost volume and value share in Europe in 2012, CCE management is pinning its hopes on new pack sizes and Coke and Fanta products in 2013 to spark a return to growth.
CCE’s FY 2012 sales fell 2.5% to $8.1bn, while net income fell from $749m to $677m, with CCE blaming “significant marketplace challenges” and ongoing macroeconomic softness in its territories.
Still and sparkling volumes fell 3% and 3.5% in 2012 – the former comprises 15% of volume, the latter 85%. Coca-Cola Zero (+6.5%) and energy (+15%) led by Monster (+50%) were rare success stories.
Losing European volume, value share
On an analyst call yesterday to discuss CCE’s results, Ian Shackleton, Nomura Securities, asked Brock about possible new product expansion, in light of GlaxoSmithKline’s Wednesday announcement.
“It’s an interesting development that we saw…but at this stage of the game, I think it would be too early to say anything significant,” Brock said.
“We’re always looking at how we can strengthen our portfolio…anything that we could do to make it stronger,” the firm’s CEO added.
Despite gaining volume share in France over Q4 2012 – CCE’s fiscal year ended on December 31 – Hubert Patricot, executive VP and president of CCE’s European group, admitted that “overall in Europe, we are slightly losing share, in both value and volume”.
Competition in GB was intense, Brock noted, adding that CCE was hoping “there might be some more rational approaches to pricing in that market,” while in France the firm was cautiously optimistic.
Vanilla Coke makes GB comeback
Having suffered the brunt of the French soft drinks excise tax already, Brock said that CCE still saw the country as a “land of opportunity”, with the lowest per-capita soda consumption levels in Europe.
Patricot revealed that CCE would introduce new products and packaging in 2013 to boost growth in GB and France.
“For France and GB, we’re going to introduce the 1.75 liter bottle in GB, a 1 liter PET in France. And on top of that we’ll have new product and flavor introductions,” Patricot said.
“Vanilla Coke in GB [previously sold there from 2002-2006] Cherry Coke Zero in GB and France, and Fanta Peach a breakthrough in France too. At the same time, we’re going to push to lower entry-point packages, which are pretty important in the current environment.”
CCE would extend distribution of its 375ml pack (currently on sale in GB) to France and Benelux, Patricot added.
“These are the reasons which make us say that we can return to volume growth, starting in France, but in Europe in general,” he said.