CCE says it expects challenges to continue in 2014

CCE says it expects challenges to continue in 2014

Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) has confirmed plans to develop the Coke Zero brand and its energy drinks portfolio, but expects "underlying challenges" to continue to affect its business in 2014.

In an update late last week, the Atlanta-based bottler said it will augment the ranges with brand extensions, promotions and new packaging. Looking ahead to next year, the company, which is Coca-Cola's anchor bottler for Western Europe, said it expects net sales to grow at low single-digits and operating profits to grow at mid-single-digits.

In October, the firm forecast low single-digit rises for both sales and profits for calendar 2013.

“While we have seen some operating headwinds moderate, we expect underlying challenges to continue and impact growth in 2014," said  John Brock, the group's CEO & chairman. "As a result, our expectations for next year are modestly below our long-term operating growth targets."

The company said it plans around US$800m-worth of share repurchases in next year, folllowing around $1bn of shares bought back in 2013.

Brock added: "We remain confident that, over time, the combination of our global operating framework, our successful brands, and our focus on operational excellence and customer value creation will continue to create sustained opportunities for meaningful growth.”

In nine-month results, the group reported a year-on-year drop in net profits, as sales for the period came in flat.