Coca-Cola Bottling Co Consolidated has lined up a new senior VP of public affairs, communications and communities, as the current incumbent is set to retire.

The company, the largest independent Coca-Cola bottler in the US, said yesterday that Kimberly Kuo will move across from her current role as principal consultant at Sterling Strategies management consultancy. Kuo replaces Lauren Steele, who has spent 34 years working within the Coca-Cola system.

As well as having been a press aide for Senate Majority Leader - and then-presidential candidate - Bob Dole, Kuo also worked for AOL as primary spokesperson.

"Lauren … is well-known … for his passionate and effective advocacy for our brands, our industry, our company, and our employees," said Hank Flint, president & COO of Coca-Cola Consolidated. "While we will greatly miss Lauren and his knowledge, experience and passion, I am pleased to have someone with Ms. Kuo's unique background and strong character to lead this team into the future."

Kuo will deal in both external and internal communications, federal and state government affairs, and "programmes engaging the communities the company serves".

In November, Coca-Cola Bottling Co Consolidated reported a healthy rise in both sales and profits for the first nine months of 2015.