ATLANTA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Coca-Cola Company today announced continued progress in refranchising its North American bottling operations, with expanded territories for three bottlers and the addition of a new, independent bottler.
The Coca-Cola system’s newest bottler is led by Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman, founder of a Louisville, Ky., company named Manna Inc. Bridgeman is a former NBA player who first established his business interests by purchasing three Wendy’s franchises while he was still playing basketball.
Bridgeman retired from the NBA in 1987 and grew his portfolio of businesses to become one of the largest restaurant franchise operators in the country. Bridgeman is in the process of divesting his restaurant holdings, which include Wendy’s and Chili’s franchises, to focus on his future business in the Coca-Cola system.
Bridgeman has signed a letter of intent to acquire territory from The Coca-Cola Company in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas and Nebraska, including the cities of St. Louis and Kansas City. Bridgeman will also acquire a production facility in Lenexa, Kan. Justin Bridgeman, one of Junior Bridgeman’s sons, will lead the company with his father.
The new bottling company will become just the third new, independent Coca-Cola bottler in recent decades. The others are Great Lakes Coca-Cola Distribution LLC and Coca-Cola Beverages Florida LLC.
Existing Bottlers to Expand
Coca-Cola of Northern New England, which has been part of the Coca-Cola system since 1977, has signed a letter of intent to take on additional territory from The Coca-Cola Company.
Bedford, N.H.-based CCNNE expects to acquire territory throughout New England. The territory covers several major cities, including Boston, Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn. CCNNE will acquire production facilities in Needham Heights, Mass., and Hartford.
Coca-Cola also announced four other new letters of intent:
- Corinth Coca-Cola Bottling Works, Inc., based in Corinth, Miss., will acquire additional territory in Missouri and Arkansas.
- Coca-Cola of Durango-Farmington, based in Durango, Colo., plans to acquire territory in Gallup, N.M.
- Coca-Cola Beverages Florida, based in Tampa, Fla., will acquire production facilities in the Florida cities of Hollywood, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa.
- Great Lakes Coca-Cola Distribution LLC, based in Rosemont, Ill., will acquire production facilities in Alsip, Ill., Niles, Ill., Detroit, Grand Rapids, Mich., Eagan, Minn., and Milwaukee.
These letters of intent are part of Coca-Cola North America’s ongoing and accelerated implementation of a 21st Century Beverage Partnership Model, a broad initiative aimed at building on system capabilities to sustain success. The Company previously announced that it will refranchise all North American territories by the end of 2017.
“We continue to make great progress in refranchising, and these agreements show that our partners are strongly interested in expanding,” said J. Alexander “Sandy” Douglas Jr., President, Coca-Cola North America. “These bottlers are investing in the future of the Coca-Cola system. We are also pleased to welcome a new bottler to the Coca-Cola family.”
Definitive Agreements and Closed Deals
The Company has also reached a new, definitive agreement with Swire Coca-Cola, USA, a subsidiary of Swire Pacific Limited’s Beverages Division, to acquire territory in Albuquerque, N.M. This adds to a previously announced definitive agreement for territories in the Southwest.
The Company has also closed deals with four companies:
- Chesterman Co. of Sioux City, Iowa, has acquired territory in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. Chesterman has also sold territory in Macomb, Ill., to the Coca-Cola Refreshments unit of The Coca-Cola Company.
- Clark Beverage Group Inc. of Starkville, Miss., has acquired territory in Greenwood and Jackson, Miss.
- Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated of Charlotte, N.C., has acquired three distribution centers in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia.
- Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED of Birmingham, Ala., has acquired territory in New Orleans and New Iberia, La., along with a production facility in New Orleans.
Formation of New Information Technology Services Company
The Company also announced today that six bottlers have formed an information technology services company called CONA Services. Its service platform, called Coke One North America, or CONA, provides a common set of processes, data standards, manufacturing and customer solutions for the Coca-Cola bottling system in the United States.
Reinhard Meister, who has 20 years of experience in the bottling system, has been named CEO of CONA Services. The board of directors includes representatives from the six owners of the company: Coca-Cola Beverages Florida LLC, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, Coca-Cola Refreshments, Great Lakes Coca-Cola Distribution LLC and Swire Coca-Cola, USA.
21st Century Beverage Partnership Model History
The Coca-Cola Company began working with its bottling partners a decade ago on plans to develop a model that evolves the system to serve the changing customer and consumer landscape, with a focus on creating stronger system alignment. A critical step was the Company’s acquisition of the North American territories of Coca-Cola Enterprises in 2010.
Since that deal closed, The Coca-Cola Company has accelerated the implementation of the new model by strategically addressing the bottling system, customer service, product supply and a common information technology platform.
Ultimately, the Coca-Cola system in North America will be comprised of economically aligned bottling partners that have the capability to serve major customers, coupled with the ability to maintain strong, local ties across diverse markets in the United States and Canada.
So far, the Company has reached definitive agreements or signed letters of intent to refranchise territories that account for approximately 50% of bottler-delivered distribution volume in the United States.
The new transactions announced today are subject to The Coca-Cola Company and the companies involved reaching definitive agreements. The parties are committed to working together to implement a smooth transition with minimal disruption for customers, consumers and system associates. Financial terms are not being disclosed.
About The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) is the world’s largest beverage company, refreshing consumers with more than 500 sparkling and still brands and more than 3,800 beverage choices. Led by Coca-Cola, one of the world’s most valuable and recognizable brands, our company’s portfolio features 20 billion-dollar brands, 18 of which are available in reduced-, low- or no-calorie options. Our billion-dollar brands include Diet Coke, Coca-Cola Zero, Fanta, Sprite, Dasani, vitaminwater, Powerade, Minute Maid, Simply, Del Valle, Georgia and Gold Peak. Through the world’s largest beverage distribution system, we are the No. 1 provider of both sparkling and still beverages. More than 1.9 billion servings of our beverages are enjoyed by consumers in more than 200 countries each day. With an enduring commitment to building sustainable communities, our company is focused on initiatives that reduce our environmental footprint, create a safe, inclusive work environment for our associates, and enhance the economic development of the communities where we operate. Together with our bottling partners, we rank among the world’s top 10 private employers with more than 700,000 system associates. For more information, visit Coca-Cola Journey at www.coca-colacompany.com, follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/CocaColaCo, visit our blog, Coca-Cola Unbottled, at www.coca-colablog.com or find us on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/the-coca-cola-company.