Companies

Coca-Cola India shakes up top-level management

| Updated on: Apr 28, 2017
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COCA_COLA

COCA_COLA

Names T Krishnakumar as president after Venkatesh Kini exits company

Come May, Venkatesh Kini, President - India and South-West Asia, Coca-Cola, will step aside and give charge to T Krishnakumar.

This is in keeping with the change which the global beverages major is seeing at its Atlanta headquarters, with new CEO James Quincey taking charge soon.

Coca-Cola will also see another company veteran, Vamsi Mohan, taking over as South-West Asia Regional Director for Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages (HCCB) and Christina Ruggiero as CEO of HCCB.

Till now, Krishnakumar, was serving as CEO and South-West Asia Regional Director of HCCB, and Ruggiero as Chief Procurement Officer for Coca-Cola System in North America, and President and CEO for Bottlers’ Sales and Services, LLC. Mohan is currently Bottling Investments Group Regional Director for Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia.

The transition also comes at a time when Coca-Cola India has been facing challenging times and witnessing sluggish growth for the past few quarters. Most recently, the company reported a low, single-digit decline in sales volumes for its India and South-West Asia business in the January-March period.

Kini, who has been President since July 2013, termed his movement as ‘personal’. At a select media roundtable, Kini said he is returning to the US to pursue opportunities outside Coca-Cola after a 19-year stint. He will, however, remain in the company for the next three months for a smooth transition.

New operating model John Murphy, President, Asia-Pacific Group, The Coca-Cola Company, who announced the leadership changes, said that, as outlined by incoming CEO Quincey, the company is designing a new operating model which is growth-oriented and consumer-centred.

Calling India a strategic market, Murphy said: “We already have a developing portfolio, playing in a number of categories besides sparkling beverages. But we think this is only the start, and see tremendous potential ahead.”

Asked about the slowdown in sales after nearly a decade of strong growth, Murphy said the firm expects to come out of the short-term headwinds. “I do believe India will return to double-digit growth rate in the next three years.

“...India ranks as one of the highest growth markets, if one looks at the independent projections on GDP or consumer spends. Demographic and urbanisation trends are also very positive for consumer-focussed business. We are focussing on deeper understanding of consumers and tailoring our portfolio of beverage products to capture these ongoing opportunities,” he added.

Globally, Coca-Cola has been focussed on cost savings and re-franchising its bottling operations in several markets.

However, Murphy added: “Here in India, we have a strong system which comprises franchises owned by the company and independent franchises. My objective right now is to leverage this model. So there are no plans to make changes to this model for the next couple of years.”

On the issue of sugar tax or ‘sin tax’ on fizzy drinks in India, Murphy said: “We will wait and see how the final recommendations come through. We have made representations to the government on the importance of having a fair approach when it comes to taxation. We are one of the largest taxpayers in India in the category. We very well appreciate and understand the overall objectives of the government. But, we would like to see taxation being rolled out in a fair manner so that no player is singled out.”

Meanwhile, talking about India business, Irial Finan, President, Bottling Investments Group, said the company believes the revitalised system leadership structure will enable it to continue consolidating Indian market as one of the most important growth engines for The Coca-Cola Company globally.

Published on January 15, 2018

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