Coca-Cola is on a ramp-up mode after posting volume growth during the September quarter for the first time in two years. In one of the biggest recruitment drives in the FMCG space, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages, the global giant's bottling arm, plans to hire around 1,000 people during '07 for bolstering its front-line sales force.
This is part of the company's $250-million initiative to gear up for the next growth phase over a three-year period, sources said. This hiring, aimed at improving production penetration and trade-level execution capabilities, will be done by Hindustan Coca-Cola alone, and does not include the recruitment its contract bottlers will make in the next one year.
Hindustan Coca-Cola directly operates 26 bottling plants across India, while the brand marketing initiatives are carried out by Coca-Cola India. The move could result in Coca-Cola's domestic system almost doubling its sales team by the end of '07.
The cola major has between 1,000-1,500-strong sales team in an overall employee pool of around 5,000. Industry observers are dubbing it as the largest single-hiring of sales force in the FMCG sector. Normally, FMCG companies expand their sales team by 100-150 people annually, which in itself is seen as a high figure.
The fresh inductions would see the company restructuring its sales and distribution operations to align itself with the emerging market realities. For instance, Coca-Cola is forming a separate sales force to focus on restaurants, hotels and other key accounts beginning with Mumbai. Moving forward, the company would create specialised teams to focus on potentially huge opportunities like organised retail, sources said.
While a Coca-Cola spokesperson declined to comment on figures, he said the company “is continuously looking at bolstering operations and developing more efficient means to reach out to its customers through capability enhancement, bigger sales team and realignment of manufacturing capacities.”
As part of the new growth initiative, Hindustan Coca-Cola is also preparing a blueprint for restructuring manufacturing capacities across its 26 plants based on the regional growth projections.
For instance, the company's plant at Hospet in North Karnataka could see an excess capacity while the plant near Bangalore might experience a capacity shortfall going forward. The restructuring is aimed at aligning the capacity build-up with the market-wise growth projections.