As James Quincey prepares to take the reins at the world’s largest beverage company, he said the future Coca-Cola is starting to emerge.
“We upped the marketing investment, we improved execution, we transformed the bottling system — refranchising it — and I think the whole team has pulled that together,” Quincey said Thursday on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”
He said plans include focusing on growing smaller-sized packages and no-calorie sparkling beverages. In the latest quarter, smaller package production grew nearly 10 percent in volume, while no-calorie colas saw accelerated growth in the second half of the year.
“We, globally, have been driving Coca-Cola Zero Sugar with graphic changes, with formula changes and that’s starting to build global momentum,” Quincey said, explaining that zero calorie colas are now “globally outpacing the growth of [Coke’s] total portfolio.”
“There’s a future for no calorie,” he said.
Quincey, Coke’s current president and chief operating officer, will succeed Muhtar Kent as CEO on May 1. Kent will continue as Coke’s chairman.
Coke is grappling with a number of headwinds, including pressure from foreign exchange and a tough environment for sugary soft drinks as consumers become more health-focused.
On Thursday, Coke shares fell more than 2 percent after the company warned this year’s profit would fall as it worked to refranchise its bottling operations. Coke expects to complete the refranchising efforts by the end of this year.
“There’s some noise out there,” Quincey said, citing its tax rate and the fact that the company is in the midst of selling off the bottling operations as examples.
“But I think the most important thing is to look through all that and look at the core underlying business — the business that’s going to be left once we finish this transformation. It grew revenue in the full year 2016, 4 percent. It grew profit before tax, even with a higher interest charge, 8 percent. So we’re seeing a strong, robust … business being created from this transformation. … That’s the business we see emerging into the future.”
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