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Former PepsiCo executive Kathy Cole has been hired as COO at Bang Energy, the US energy-drink outfit.

Cole’s appointment was announced in the week Bang Energy’s parent company Vital Pharmaceuticals (VPX) filed for Chapter 11 protection.

Jack Owoc, Bang Energy’s founder and CEO, outlined what he saw as Cole’s credentials for the COO role. “With nearly three decades of high-level food and beverage experience and a proven track record in operational leadership, Kathy Cole is uniquely qualified to build upon Bang Energy’s success and seamlessly integrate supply chain, distribution, operations, sales, and finance,” he said.

“We are confident that Kathy’s skills and long-time industry relationships will fuel Bang Energy’s strategic growth as we transition to a 100% vertically-operated, decentralised distribution model.”

Just Drinks contacted Bang Energy for further comment, including more detail on Cole’s appointment as COO in the context of the pursuit of Chapter 11 protection. The business had not responded at the time of writing.

In a statement on Monday (11 October), VPX confirmed it was pursuing Chapter 11 protection in the US state of Florida, a move it claimed would allow it to reorganise and regain market share from domestic rivals.

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“VPX intends to use the Chapter 11 process to recapitalise and emerge from bankruptcy well-positioned to continue its rapid growth in the beverage market,” it said.

The company recently lost a US$293m lawsuit for false advertising to rival Monster Beverage Corp.

In the Chapter 11 announcement, VPX said an additional $100m had been lent to the company by unnamed “esteemed syndicate lenders” to ensure operations continue uninterrupted.

Yesterday (13 October), a US judge reportedly said Bang Energy could use $34m of a new $100m credit line to support its finances despite an objection from Monster.

As part of the restructuring process, VPX has stated its intention to create a new “decentralised direct store distribution (DSD)” network for the Bang Energy brand, which it hopes will enable it to recover to its “pre-Pepsi meteoric annual success”.

The brand was previously distributed by the CSD giant until a spat between the two companies ended with Owoc claiming PepsiCo “engaged in a premeditated plan to destroy Bang from day one”. PepsiCo has since bought into another energy drinks company, Celsius Holdings.

New COO Cole, who worked for PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay arm for more than a decade to 2020, said she was “honoured” to join Bang Energy.

She added: “As an industry veteran, I have watched Jack Owoc build his private company with laser focus, passion, relentless commitment to quality, and tireless innovation in a highly competitive market – a true David vs. Goliath story. I am optimistic about the future and eager to continue to meet the growing demands of Bang Energy’s consumers and customers around the globe.”

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