Bottler expects to improve

Bottler expects to improve

Coca-Cola Co's largest bottler in Japan, Coca-Cola West, has reported a fall in soft drinks sales in the first quarter of 2010.

Net sales fell by 3% for the three months to the end of March, to JPY77.6bn (US$830m) versus JPY79.9bn in the same period of 2009, Coca-Cola West said today (28 April).

Higher demand for Coca-Cola Zero stood out in a tough quarter for the drinks bottler, which saw total volume sales drop 4% to 36.5m cases.

The bottler cut net losses for the quarter, to JPY752m from JPY2.9bn in the first quarter of last year, due partly to lower sales and personnel costs. The group also incurred a JPY985m charge on equipment costs and restructuring in the first three months of 2009.

Coca-Cola West had predicted in February that losses for the first quarter of 2010 would reach JPY1.5bn.

Its full-year projections show that the company expects trading to improve in the second half of the year.

Sales are expected to fall by 2.5% for the first six months, but by just 0.1% for the full-year. The group also expects to return to profits, predicted to come in at JPY3.6bn compared to losses of JPY1bn in 2009.