Fortune Beverages, one of two listed Coca-Cola bottling and distribution companies in South Africa, has posted a 31.4% drop in profits for the year ended 31 December 2000.

Fortune is a subsidiary of a black empowerment group Kunene Bros Holdings and has bottling and distribution rights in the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga.

The group is also presently in negotiations with another, yet unnamed, bottling company to form a joint venture. The discussions are believed to be at a sensitive stage and no further information is available.

However, Fortune's attributable profits sank from R20.87m to R14.31m. Operating profit was R15.93m, down considerably from R31.01m and turnover was also down by 3.2% from R261.43m to R253.19m, and trading margins sank from 16.2% to 10.6%.

The drop in sales was attributed mainly to the severe flooding in Mpumalanga province (which borders on Mozambique) last summer.

The company has opened three new depots, which has helped alleviate congestion and enhanced sales and cost control measures implemented throughout the group.