Coca-Cola HBC hails 4.5% revenue growth in first quarter

Coca-Cola HBC AG, the bottler of Coca-Cola products in Nigeria and 27 other European countries said on Thursday that revenue for the first quarter of 2017 (Jan – Mar) rose 4.5% to €1.38bn ($1.49bn), up from €1.3bn in 2016. Total volumes rose 0.7% in the period.

The group attributes its good performance to strong growth in emerging markets, where sales rose 12.6% to €628.9m on a 4% volume lift. According to the company, volumes in Russia showed the first signs of recovery, recording very low single-digit volume growth for the first time in eight quarters, driven by mid-single digit increase in sparkling.

But the main driver of growth in emerging markets was Nigeria, which despite challenging macroeconomic conditions still delivered mid-single digits volume growth. The company attributes its success in the country to significant price increases implemented since the fourth quarter of 2016 to offset the spiraling inflation and naira devaluation. Other reasons given for its success include improved product availability and sustained peace in the North of the country following years of insurgency. The main drivers of growth in Nigeria include sparkling drinks and water, partially offsetting a decline in Juice. The company notes that it entered the energy drink category in February with the introduction of Monster Energy drink

Established markets saw volume decline of -2.2%, blamed on the shift in the timing of Easter, which is an important volume driver in countries like Italy. Net sales revenue fell -2.5% to €521.2m, from €534.5m.

Developing markets fared worse in terms of volume, declining by -3.6% to 78.2m cases, impacted by the shift in the timing of Easter, particularly in places like Poland. However, net sales climbed 1.1% to €226.6m driven by improved category and package mix.

Coca-Cola HBC chief executive officer Dimitris Lois said, “The business has delivered good revenue growth in the first quarter, strong momentum in price and mix and improvement in volume despite the late Easter impact.

“We are pleased with the underlying trends in the business. Our commercial initiatives continue to deliver good results, and add to our confidence going into the remainder of the year.”

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