Coca-Cola HBC says cautious on Greece but not cutting investment

Swiss based Coca-Cola HBC (CC HBC), the world’s second-largest bottler of Coca-Cola drinks, is cautious on Greece due to the macroeconomic and political uncertainty in the country but is committed to investing in the country, its chief executive said on Wednesday.

“We are very cautious as the macro and obviously the political environment remains fragile and uncertain,” CC HBC’s Chief Executive Officer Dimitris Lois said in a conference call with journalists.

CC HBC distributes Coke products in 27 countries in Europe and Nigeria. Sales volume in Greece, where CC HBC operates four plants, grew two percent last year for the first time since 2008 as the country emerged from a crippling six-year recession.

Lois said that despite the improvement, trading conditions in the country remained tough as austerity was still hurting households’ disposable income. But the bottler was not holding back its Greek investments.

“There is a 360 (degree) approach in our investment strategy in Greece and we are continuing with that. We are absolutely committed,” Lois said.

The company said credit conditions for its Greek operations were difficult as Greece and its euro zone partners were still negotiating on a debt deal, but it has not seen any worsening in recent months.

“Clearly, thing are difficult. There is no doubt about it,” CC HBC CFO Michalis Imellos said. “(But) there isn’t something specific that is happening in the last two or three months, let’s say because of the political situation. [Reuters]