Coca-Cola says additional P1.1 billion investment 'vote of confidence' in PH

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 27 2020 01:50 PM | Updated as of Aug 27 2020 02:52 PM

Coca-Cola distributes relief packs for sectors hit by COVID-19. Handout. 

MANILA - Coca-Cola Beverages Philippines Inc said Thursday its additional investment of P1.1 billion in the Philippines for 2020 despite the on-going pandemic is a "vote of confidence" in the country and its workers.

The additional $22 million investment on top of its initial $73 million (P3.5 billion) has brought this year's total to $95 million.

Part of the top up will fund infrastructure and capacity building nationwide including "substantial" investments in 3 key locations in Mindanao, namely: Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga and Sta. Cruz outside Davao, CCBPI president and CEO Gareth McGeown.

"To do something larger and bigger than we’ve ever done before, I think it's a vote of confidence not only in the team that we have in the Philippines but also in the Philippines itself," McGeown said.

"Not many markets are getting investments, not many companies in the Philippines are willing to invest but we see this as a longer term play," he added.

Due to the pandemic, the company had to "put a pause" on its P1 billion food-grade recycling facility but it would be back on track by 2021, he said. 

When lockdowns were imposed in March, there was a "dip" in demand, McGeown said but its broad portfolio, which included water, teas and juices, helped buoy the business.

The challenge was ensuring the supply chain remains undisrupted despite strict restrictions and to bring products to stores and barangays, he said. 

“We have seen some drops in the beginning and we have recovered some of that. Our portfolio have kind of protected us in some ways. We were able to adjust reasonably quickly,” he said. 

Pre-pandemic, consumption was divided 50-50 for in home and outside home consumption including restaurants and retailers, said Coca-Cola Philippines president and general manager Winn Everhart. 

Everhart said people were making less trips to stores but with bigger baskets, while more consumption is happening at home.

Meanwhile, there are some areas that are "doing very well," McGeown said without disclosing numbers. 

PEOPLE-FIRST 

During the last 6 months of varying lockdowns and challenging business conditions, Coca-Cola has not let go of any employees as cuts were made elsewhere, McGeown said.

Aside from keeping its workforce it has advanced 13th month pay and implemented merit increases, he said. 

Coca Cola Philippines has also launched a P2 billion employee assistance fund, well being programs, credit incentives for partners as well as re-channeled advertising funds to ramp up its COVID-19 relief efforts.

As of today, the company said it has redirected P150 million to relief efforts and donated 2.2 million liters of beverages, 174,000 personal protective equipment and food packs for some 65,000 vulnerable families. 

The maker of the popular Coke brand has 20 manufacturing sites and 76 distribution centers in the country.