Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC) has snapped up a vending operator in Italy.

The Coca-Cola Co. bottler confirmed yesterday (23 April) that it has bought Eurmatik in Italy for EUR15.8m (US$21.5m). Eurmatik has what CCHBC described as "a long tradition in the Italian vending industry", and currently operates in all segments of the vending business, including hot and cold beverages, water and snacks.

"The Eurmatik acquisition provides CCHBC with an opportunity to strengthen our presence and acquire valuable know-how in the full-line vending channel in Italy," said Doros Constantinou, CCHBC's managing director. "This transaction is consistent with our strategy of selectively exploring new channels in order to extend our product reach and diversification, particularly in the high value immediate consumption channel."

In the last two years, CCHBC has bought two other vending operators in Europe - Vendit in Ireland in 2005 and Yoppi in Hungary in 2006.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval, CCHBC noted.

When contacted by just-drinks today, a spokesperson for CCHBC moved to play down the move into the vending industry. "We've made a couple of acquisitions like this before, but it doesn't neccesarily signal a company-wide move in the direction of vending," the spokesperson said. "It's a profitable channel, but you need scale to make it profitable in the long-term.

"This is a very small acquisition, but it enables us to get into hot and cold drinks, water and snacks."