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just On Call - Cott Corp chief warns of 'challenging' 2014

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The CEO of Cott Corp has said he expects the CSD category in North America to remain “challenging” in 2014 after his company saw volumes in the segment fall “mid to high-teens” last year.

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During a conference call today (12 February), following the release of the group’s full-year results, Jerry Fowden admitted that the CSD market in 2013 “did not pan out as expected”. He said that pressure on the market had led to “deep” promotional activity, which affected the group’s volumes as a private label CSD producer. 

“I expect the North American beverage landscape, especially CSDs, to remain challenging in 2014, with continuing pressure on category and private label volumes, as well as on margins from excess capacity and increased promotional activity and pricing," Fowden said.

The group today reported that its full-year profits fell 64% to US$17m, as sales dipped 7% to $2.09bn. Asked today about Cott's volume decline in CSDs in North America, Fowden disclosed it was "in the mid to high-teens" but the company's shelf-stable juice business grew "low- to mid-single digits". 

On the move last week to go public about a strategic review of the business, Fowden flagged that the company has conducted a similar review annually for the last five years. On three occasions, he said, the group has employed external advisors. Fowden said the company had decided to issue a press release after media interest and its pledge to offer “full transparency”. 

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