‘Too early to declare victory’ with Coca-Cola Life: Coca-Cola Enterprises

By Ben BOUCKLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

‘Too early to declare victory’ with Coca-Cola Life: CCE

Related tags: Coca-cola

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) says it is too early to ‘declare victory’ with stevia-sweetened cola Coca-Cola Life after September launches in Britain and Sweden.

Nonetheless, the company plans to seed the drink across its other territories, starting with France in mid-December, shortly followed by Belgium and Holland.

CCE reported disappointing Q3 2014 results last Thursday, with flat net sales of $2,136bn (-1.7%) net income of $238m (-21%) and volume down 4% across its territories. The firm was hit by macroeconomic softness, a difficult retail environment and poor weather, especially in France.

Herbert Patricot, executive VP and president of CCE’s European Group, told investors and analysts last Thursday that despite volume declines (-2.5% during the quarter), the company was gaining both value and volume share in Britain.

Coke Life

“We are really encouraged so far by the way that both shoppers and customers have welcomed Coke Life, which was in the market in September, and Glaceau smartwater,”​ he said.

‘We’re still building distribution for our buzz brands’

The latter fuses British spring water and added electrolytes to bring what CCE claims is a crisp, clean taste, and the company has invested £3.5m ($5.64m) at its Morpeth facility in Northeast England to support the launch.

“It’s too early, again, to declare victory. We are still building the distribution for our buzz brands – especially for smartwater,” ​Patricot added.

Asked later in the call about traction for Life and smartwater thus far, Patricot said: “It’s a bit early to draw some definitive conclusion. What we can say is that it’s clearly on expectation or above expectation.

“Coke Life, in particular, has been very well received. We had a very strong impact on the shelves with this new pack, new color,” ​he added.

smartwater

Patricot said it was too soon to tell whether the launches were incremental (to CCE’s cola sales) “because we need to see what the net-net cannibalization will be on the rest of the range”

Smartwater targets ‘icy pop of water business’

While Life’s initial results were encouraging, Patricot said the company needed to look beyond the first effects of “trial and curiosity​ to the mid- and long-term, but didn’t have the data yet.

Turning to smartwater, Patricot said CCE would extend distribution this month and early next year.

“Frankly, it’s a new field for us because clearly, we were practically not present in this icy water market in Great Britain at the higher end of the market,”​ he said.

“With smartwater, we’re targeting the icy pop of the water business, because this is where value is, and this is what CCE is after,”​ Patricot added.

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