Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company is gearing up for the accession of Bulgaria to the European Union, by transferring its production in the country.

The company's Bulgarian subsidiary plans to move its operations in Bulgaria from Plovdiv to Kostinbrod, near Sofia, where CCHBC already has a bottling plant. CCHBC said earlier this week that it will spend around EUR1.9m (US$2.4m) on the move, which should be completed early next year.

The unit said, however, that it will maintain a presence in Plovdiv, with its distribution, marketing and finance sections staying put.

The move is a preparatory one, as Bulgaria primes itself for joining the EU at the beginning of 2007. CCHBC is expecting a flood of new competition in the country as a result.

The Bulgarian subsidiary operates bottling facilities in Kostinbrod, Plovdiv and Targovishte and also has 11 distribution centres.