US: Wal-Mart threat prompts Coke changes
Coca-Cola Co. feared pressure from Wal-Mart if it didn't change its distribution to the supermarket giant, the drinks company has revealed.
In a response to a lawsuit brought by around 60 US bottlers, the soft drinks company said earlier this month that, had it not changed its distribution system to Wal-Mart, the retailer warned that it could begin creating and selling its own sports drink instead of Coke's Powerade. If it did change its system, Coke said, then Wal-Mart had promised to double its purchases of Powerade.
The response followed the filing of a lawsuit by the group of bottlers, claiming injunctive relief prohibiting Coke and its largest bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises, from delivering Powerade to Wal-Mart warehouses instead of the bottlers delivering directly to stores. The bottlers are claiming breach of contract, breach of duty and other related claims.
In the filing, Coke said it agreed to change the distribution structure, fearing that a private label energy drink would hamper growth prospects for its own Powerade.
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