Coca-Cola HBC is to axe 90 jobs in Bulgaria as it restructures its local business ahead of the country's potential accession to the EU next year.

The Coke bottler is transferring production from its site in the Bulgarian city of Plovdiv to the eastern town of Kostinbrod, where it has its largest plant in the country. The company plans to keep some distribution functions at its Plovdiv site.

A CCHBC Bulgaria spokesperson told just-drinks today (16 August) that the move was part of the company's plan to drive efficiencies across Europe. The strategy has already led to restructuring in Ireland and Greece.

She added: "The restructuring in Bulgaria is necessary in order to capitalise on opportunities presented by EU Accession expected in 2007 and to position ourselves for increased competition from European and local competition.

"It is important that we make these changes ahead of EU accession, in order to improve our operational efficiency and sustain the long-term viability of our business in Bulgaria."