Coca-Cola suffers sales and profit slump in Q1 on refranchising costs, headwinds

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola said on Tuesday that revenue for the first quarter ending on March 31, 2017 fell by 11% to $9.1bn, while profit dropped 20% to $1.18bn. The poor performance was blamed on headwinds related to acquisitions, divestitures and costs associated with the ongoing North American bottling refranchising programme, as well as foreign exchange headwinds.

In a statement released by Coke’s Chairman and CEO, Muhtar Kent, he said, “The first quarter performance was in line with our plan, and we remain on track to deliver our underlying revenue and profit targets for the full year. As anticipated, revenues in the quarter were adversely impacted by two fewer days and the shift of Easter holiday.”

Kent, who will be handing over to James Quincey on May 1st, said the company was on track to becoming a total beverage business as it broadens its portfolio offerings to include non-sparkling beverages such as juice, dairy and plant-based drinks.

Coke said that its worldwide unit case was flat for the quarter, with a 3% drop in Latin America (Brazil and Latin Center business units), that has seen “persistent macroeconomic challenges in those markets,” the company said.

Overall, the soda manufacturer said it would expand the company’s current cost-savings program by $800 million to $3.8 billion.

The company added that the cost reductions are being made in its supply chain, in marketing and by reconfiguring its operating model.

Incoming CEO James Quincey said that part of the company’s cost cutting includes the elimination of 1,200 jobs as the company refocuses on creating a “lean Corporate Center.” Coke employs over 100,000 people worldwide. The elimination of jobs will begin in the second-half of 2017 through 2018 as the soda giant tries to become “faster and more agile.”

“We are rapidly evolving our growth model to make changes that will result in an even more consumer-centric portfolio that meets people’s changing tastes and preferences,” Quincey said.

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