Coca-Cola HBC to 'evaluate all options' for its Russian operations

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Soft drinks bottler Coca-Cola HBC AG said it will ‘evaluate all options’ for its Russian operations and have a smaller presence in the country in the future. 

The bottler, which counts Russia as one of its biggest markets, is also working closely with Coca-Cola to implement the US beverage company’s decision to suspend its business in the region and stop orders for concentrates.

HBC is one of Coca-Cola’s many bottlers worldwide and holds local Coca-Cola franchises to bottle and sell drinks produced by the beverage giant, which holds a stake of roughly 21 per cent in HBC.

© Provided by This Is Money Options: Soft drinks bottler Coca-Cola HBC AG said it will evaluate all options for its Russian operations

The London-listed company’s organic revenue in the first-quarter rose 25.9 per cent, excluding Russia and Ukraine. 

In the first three months of this year, organic sales jumped 24.2 per cent, driven by continued reopening of societies following Covid restrictions last year. 

The group said today: ‘As previously announced, we are working in close alignment with The Coca-Cola Company on the implementation of the decision to suspend its business in Russia. 

‘We can confirm that as of 8 March we stopped placing orders for concentrate in Russia and ceased investments in the market. 

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‘As per our announcement on 3 March, our guidance for the current financial year remains withdrawn.’

As a consequence, guidance for the current financial year remains withdrawn. 

Zoran Bogdanovic, chief executive of Coca-Cola HBC, said: ‘We are deeply distressed by the unspeakable tragedy and ongoing human suffering in Ukraine. We stand with our colleagues and all those affected. 

‘We continue to prioritise the safety of our people and their families and are providing practical and financial support, as well as donations for humanitarian relief in the impacted region.

‘Alongside this, the people of Coca-Cola HBC have continued to execute our growth strategy, delivering strong top line growth which was well balanced between volume and revenue per case.

‘The inflationary environment has only intensified since our last set of results, and this is why I am so pleased to see the effective use of our Revenue Growth Management capabilities, including pricing, visible in our performance. 

‘There are several other highlights from the quarter including welcoming Egypt to the Group, ongoing strong performance from Sparkling and Energy and, in particular, the very strong market share performance which continued to accelerate in Q1.’

Coca-Cola HBC shares have risen this morning and were up 1.28 per cent or 20.50p to 1,618.50p just before 11am. However, the company’s share price has fallen by over 35 per cent in the past year. 

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