Coca-Cola has announced important leadership and operational changes for North America that it said will better serve the market and accelerate growth starting Jan. 1. North America has generally lagged behind the company’s overseas growth for years.
The Atlanta-based beverage giant said late Thursday it will split its integrated North American operations into two units with new leaders.
Coca-Cola North America will be led by Sandy Douglas as group president. He will report to Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent.
The bottling operations of North America, called Coca-Cola Refreshments, will be led by Paul Mulligan, who will be its president. Coca-Cola Refreshments will become part of the company’s Bottling Investments Group, which includes international bottling operations. Mulligan will report to Irial Finan, president of the Bottling Investments Group. That move is partly being made to expedite the sale of some North American bottling operations to independent U.S. bottlers.
“This is about Muhtar wanting to move faster on his changes to the North American bottling system and accelerate the improvement on North American marketing,” said Beverage Digest editor John Sicher.
Also, Steve Cahillane, president of Coca-Cola Americas, has decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities. The Coca-Cola Americas operating structure, which included North America, Central America and South America, will cease to exist. The Latin America Group, led by Group President Brian Smith, will become part of Coca-Cola International, instead of being tied to North America. Coca-Cola International is led by Ahmet Bozer.
“Bozer and Finans would be considered the leading candidates in the management succession process,” Sicher said. But, he added, “Muhtar Kent is not going anywhere, anytime soon.”