Sat | Oct 21, 2017

Cost cuts at Coca-Cola go deeper, including jobs

Published:Wednesday | April 26, 2017 | 12:00 AM

Coca-Cola's sales declined in the first quarter as it restructured its business, and the world's biggest beverage maker said it will cut 1,200 jobs starting later this year as it deepens its cost-cutting.

The maker of Fanta, Sprite and Smartwater said the job cuts will come from its corporate staff around the world. That would represent about a 22 per cent reduction of its corporate staff of about 5,500, or a one per cent reduction in its total workforce of 100,300 employees, according to FactSet.

Coca-Cola Co said the cuts would help it find another $800 million in annualised savings, in addition to the $3 billion the company previously said it is trimming. Most of those savings are expected to be realised in 2018 and 2019, it said.

The company has also been reshaping its business by selling back its bottling and distribution operations to independent bottlers. That means Coke is becoming more focused on selling concentrates to bottlers and marketing for its brands as its No. 2 executive, James Quincey, prepares to officially take over as CEO next week.

Quincey has said he plans to focus on making Coke a "total beverage company", meaning it will more aggressively seek growth in promising drinks other than soda to better reflect changing tastes. The efforts have included putting more marketing behind options like Smartwater, including a carbonated variety of the bottled water.

 

Flat venture

 

When excluding the impact of refranchising, a negative impact from foreign currency exchanges and other structural changes, Coke said its revenue was flat.

On a global basis, the Atlanta-based company said total sales volume was flat. That reflected a one per cent decline in sodas, and a three per cent increase for the category including water, enhanced water and sports drinks. Volume rose two per cent in the category, including tea and coffee.

In North America, volume rose for Fanta, Sprite and Coke Zero, while Diet Coke continued to decline.

For the first three months of the year, the company earned $1.18 billion, or 27 cents per share. Excluding one-time gains and costs, it said it earned 43 cents per share, a penny less than analysts expected, according to Zacks Investment Research.

Total revenue was $9.12 billion in the period, topping analyst forecasts for $8.96 billion.

Shares rose slightly in early trading Tuesday.

- AP