The CEO of the world's largest producer of own-label soft drinks, Cott Corporation, has reduced his base salary to $1.00 for 2004 and will re-direct his pay to help fund a college scholarship programme for dependents of Cott employees.

Frank E. Weise, chairman and chief executive officer, said: "I attribute a great deal of my business success to a good education. It is the hope of my wife Debbie and myself that these funds will play a role in helping the children of Cott employees take advantage of opportunities ahead of them."

Cott's Board of Directors has approved the move at its regularly scheduled meeting.

Commenting on the action, lead director Serge Gouin said: "Frank has been an exemplary leader of Cott Corporation as evidenced by his recent recognition as CEO of the year in Canada. It is refreshing to see that this leadership extends to personally making a difference in the lives of the families of Cott employees."

Separately, Weise said that the company continued on track to achieve its current 2003 guidance with earnings of $1.03-$1.07 per diluted share. Sales are expected to increase by about 16%. EBITDA is expected to be between $190 and $194m. Capital spending is expected to be approximately $50m. Final results for the year will be announced on or about January 29, 2004.

Looking ahead in 2004, Weise added that he continues to see a positive environment and anticipates further strong growth for retailer brands.

He expected sales for Cott next year to grow 10-12% (excluding acquisitions), EBITDA between $218 and $222m, and earnings per diluted share in the range of $1.18-$1.22.

Capital spending of $56 million is anticipated.