Coke shakes things up at the top

Coke shakes things up at the top

Author | Source: The Economic Times | Thursday, Feb 09,2006 8:52 AM

Coke shakes things up at the top

Barely a day after The Coca-Cola Company declared the '05 annual results, highlighting the poor performance of India and the Philippines, top-level changes have begun at the Asia Pacific level.

ET now hears the company's Southeast Asia and Pacific Rim Group president Patrick Siewert (he controlled India and the Philippines at the regional level, among other countries) is being relocated as a consultant within the system with immediate effect.

He will be replaced by Glenn Jordan, a turnaround expert and currently executive vice-president and director of operations for the Latin American group. He is credited with the revival of the operations in Argentina and Brazil.

Sources said that Mr Siewert's exit from the Asia Pacific region is an indication of how badly the bosses in Atlanta want the region to beef up operations and profitability. The Coca-Cola's new head of international operations, Muhtar Kent clearly sees the need for fresh blood in the region to meet the company's priority, which is “on the ground execution.”

Mr Siewert was in-charge of India, among other countries in the Asian region, for over five years. Market sources said that he steered India through the affordability strategy and backed the local management's initiatives, which met with limited success.

In an internal communiqué released today, Mr Kent says, “The organisation is designed to spur growth in the rapidly-developing markets of the East, South Asia and the Pacific Rim Group, while providing focus on critical markets in China, Japan, Russia and Europe.”

While Mr Kent would continue to look after China, Japan and Russia directly, he has not made any top-level changes in the other three geographical divisions - Africa, the European Union and the Latin American Groups either.

A media release from Atlanta posted on the website, talks about a decline in unit case volumes, both in India and the Philippines, impacting results for the entire region in '05. In India, unit case volumes fell to mid single-digit in the fourth quarter, compared with the previous year quarter, but improved as compared to the prior three quarters due to easing comparisons and the benefit of double-digit noncarbonated beverage growth.

Even in the Philippines division - headed by the erstwhile India division president Alex-von-Behr, unit case volumes slid to the low single-digits in the quarter. The company expects performance in the Philippines to remain weak in '06.

Compared with this, other key emerging markets like China, Russia, Brazil and Turkey led the volume growth with strong numbers. North America and Latin America delivered another solid quarter of unit case volume growth, and Germany delivered mid single-digit growth for the first time since '03.

“Offsetting these results were unit case volume declines in the Philippines, India and Northwest Europe,” the release said.

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