Coca-Cola Hellenic, the Greece-based Coca-Cola bottler, plans to step up its focus on cost savings after reporting flat profit in the third quarter.

Net profit remained at EUR213m (US$274M) for the three months ended 30 September, Coca-Cola Hellenic (CCHBC) said today (5 November).

Earnings performance in the third quarter improved compared to the first half, with net profit for the first nine months of the year down by 3% to EUR422m.

Cost savings initiatives already being implemented are likely to result in flat earnings for the full-year, meeting expectations, CCHBC said.

Managing director Doros Constantinou said the bottler was cautious over the short-term, and would look to generate more savings next year. "We continue to look for opportunities to further reduce our cost base and improve operating leverage in response to the current economic environment with the aim of strengthening profitability in 2009."

Constantinou praised CCHBC's sales growth. Net revenue rose by 9% in the third quarter to more than EUR2bn, and increased 8% for the first nine months of the year to EUR5.4bn.

A strong presence in emerging soft drinks markets, notably Russia and Poland, boosted growth, with Coke Zero driving sales in sparkling beverages and juices, teas, sports and energy drinks lifting non-carbonated beverages.

Group volume growth for the third quarter was 4%, below the group's expectations. It blamed this on poor weather and deteriorating economic conditions. Volume growth of 4% is expected to be the average for the full-year, the bottler added in its outlook.