The president and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises is quitting the company. The company confirmed today (1 December) that John Alm will leave on 1 January.

CCE said that its board of directors has begun the search for a successor, with chairman Lowry Kline serving as interim CEO until a replacement is found. Alm will advise and counsel Kline throughout the transition for up to six months.

"John has been an integral part of the Coca-Cola bottling system for more than two decades, and both Coca-Cola Enterprises and the Coca-Cola system have benefited from his leadership and insight," said Kline.

Alm said: "I am fully committed to working with Lowry to ensure an effective transition, and this decision reflects the company's confidence in our strong management team, especially the abilities of Terry Marks and Shaun Higgins, two of the industry's most respected operators. Under their leadership, we are continuing to strengthen our business in North America and Western Europe, working closely with The Coca-Cola Company to meet the changing needs of our customers and consumers in these dynamic markets."

Marks was named president, North American Business Unit, in January, while Higgins became president, European Group, in April.

Alm, 59, began his career in the beverage industry in 1980 when he joined the Johnston Coca-Cola Bottling Group as senior vice president and chief financial officer. In 1991, the Johnston Coca-Cola Bottling Group merged with Coca-Cola Enterprises and Alm was named vice president and chief financial officer. In 2000, Alm became president and COO and was appointed CEO in January 2004.