Coca-Cola has decided to transfer company-owned bottling operations in three territories in North India. The beverage major on Monday said that its bottling arm, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Pvt Ltd (HCCB), is divesting bottling operations in Rajasthan, Bihar, North-East and parts of West Bengal to its existing independent bottlers. India is the fifth largest market for the beverage major globally.

Sources said with this move, territories of North, North-East and West Bengal will now be completely operated by independent bottlers for the company. Coca-Cola currently has 11 bottling partners in India including company-owned HCCB. These partners operate 54 plants in the country. The company had undertaken a similar refranchising exercise in 2019 in the Northern region.

The Rajasthan market will be owned and operated by Kandhari Global Beverages (which comprises Enrich Agro Food Products Pvt. Ltd. and Kandhari Beverages Pvt. Ltd.). They are currently operating in parts of Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Chandigarh, Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh.

Meanwhile, the Bihar market will be owned and operated by SLMG Beverages Pvt. Ltd. They are currently operating in Uttarakhand, parts of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Bihar.

The North-East market and select areas of West Bengal will be owned and operated by Moon Beverages Pvt. Ltd.. They are currently operating parts of Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

Juan Pablo Rodriguez, CEO, HCCB India, said, “This business transfer marks a significant decision for Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages. It ensures the right level of investments can be undertaken in all parts of the business, while bringing both scale and contiguity to the business. We are in the long-term growth prospects of our beverages business in India and believe this move will help accelerate the Coca‑Cola system, enabling us to win in the market and provide greater value to local communities.”

HCCB currently runs 16 factories in India. In recent times, it has announced plans to set up new plants in states such as Gujarat, Telangana and Maharashtra. 

“We are committed to building stronger and more sustainable local businesses in India As we set ourselves for further growth in the Indian market, these transfers will direct investments into innovation, infrastructure, technical capabilities, talent acquisition and business expansion while strengthening existing capabilities to deliver unparalleled beverage experiences to our consumers,” said Sundeep Bajoria, Vice President, India Operations, Coca‑Cola India. 

At a select media roundtable last year, John Murphy, President and CFO, The Coca-Cola Company, had said, “Our aim is to focus on things that we are good at, which is building brands and being a good franchise partner to our bottlers around the world. So over the years, we will divest in other regions in India and we will do it in a thoughtful and a very deliberate manner.”