Private-label soft drink business, the Cott Corporation, has appointed John K. Sheppard to take over its US market operations.

Sheppard was previously 20 years at Coca-Cola, where he oversaw the northwestern European operations of the business.

Cott belives that this change will enable the existing chief executive, Frank E. Weise, to concentrate on competing with the company's larger rivals.

It is hoped that Sheppard's appointment will continue rejuvenation for a company whose prospects only five years ago looked bleak. Weise started the revival of Cott by stripping it of all but the soda business after his own appointment in 1998.

Cott's ranges of less-expensive own-brand sodas, sold through the likes of Wal-Mart, have significantly benefited from recent price rises by the likes of Coke and Pepsi. This has done much to give Cott increased sales of 4.9% compared to Pepsi's 1.2% and a market share drop by Coke of 2.2%.

According to the company's figures, Cott's growth has been even better, edging upwards of 6 percent but this is a growth that Pepsi and Coke will want to halt.
just-drinks believes that, if success can be maintained, Cott will become a potential suitor or a takeover target itself.