CCHBC unveils plan to shed facilities, jobs

Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC), the world’s second-largest bottler of the beverage, yesterday announced a restructuring of operations in Greece which will involve a plant closure and the loss of about 150 jobs. The company said it will transfer production from its Athens plant to Schimatari, north of the capital, and close the regional storage facilities in Mesolongi, Rhodes and Corfu. The initial announcement appeared to cause some confusion and trade unionists claimed that about 700 jobs would be lost, as the company planned to transfer production to neighboring Balkan countries, despite realizing an 18 percent rise in profits last year. Unions stressed that they were prepared to stage militant action to prevent the cuts, including road blocks. However, CCHBC officials later told Kathimerini that the company will continue investing in the country, which is among its five most profitable markets. «In a market of 10 million people, the company operates seven factories, employs 2,400 workers and steadily invests, on an annual basis, about 40 million euros,» they said. The officials said the decision was part of efforts to contain costs, remain competitive and carry out further investment. «The company’s efforts to effectively respond to continuously changing market requirements are hampered by the existing structure and the high operating costs it creates. In this framework, the company considers that the change is indispensable,» they said. The company officials explained that the Athens plant cannot be expanded and that the areas of Mesolongi, Rhodes and Corfu can be served by the storage facilities in Patras and Iraklion, Crete. CCHBC said it plans to hire about 150 salespeople in the next two years, and will invest 8 million euros in an ultra-modern production plant in Iraklion. The restructuring is not limited to Greece but will take in several of the 26 countries in which it operates. For instance, it is closing two factories in Ireland and plans to build a single, new 40-45 million-euro facility.

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