Business

Charlotte Coke bottler to slash 350 positions

Charlotte's Coke Consolidated said Thursday it is cutting 350 jobs, including 35 in its headquarters city, as soaring fuel and sweetener costs erode profits.

The job cuts represent about 5 percent of the 6,500 people working for the nation's second largest Coke bottler, which operates predominantly in nine southeastern states. Attrition and other previous departures have already trimmed about 200 employees, with the balance of 150 representing new layoffs. The company expects to take a charge of $4 million to $5 million as a result of the job cuts.

“The past year has seen dramatic increases in the costs of goods and services required to make, sell and deliver our products,” Frank Harrison, Coke Consolidated's chief executive, said in a news release after the close of trading on Thursday. “We are saddened to eliminate any positions, but we feel these moves are necessary to manage our costs in response to the current business conditions.”

Coke Consolidated operates from a SouthPark headquarters, and its bottling plant in northwest Charlotte is one of the world's largest.

The company's stock closed Thursday at $34.16, up 2 percent, but way off its 52-week high of $64.02 last fall.

Bottlers are heavy users of corn syrup to sweeten soda, and corn prices have jumped with demand for ethanol. Bottlers also have struggled with weakening soft drink sales and higher fuel costs for their delivery fleets. Now consumers are cutting back more as they face rising prices for gas, food and other goods.

On Thursday, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. – which supplies bottlers with the secret-formula concentrate used to flavor soda – said its second-quarter profit fell 23 percent. The world's biggest beverage company earned $1.42 billion, or 61 cents per share, compared with $1.85 billion, or 80 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2007. Revenue rose 17 percent to $9.05 billion from $7.73 billion a year earlier.

The earnings decline was driven by a one-time charge at Coca-Cola Enterprises, a huge bottler in which it owns a significant stake. The bottler took a $5.3 billion non-cash charge to write down the value of its business, blaming the deteriorating economy and cost increases for fuel and supplies such as aluminum, plastic and sweetener.

Coke Consolidated will release earnings next month.

Charlotte's Coke Consolidated said Thursday it is cutting 350 jobs, including 35 in its headquarters city, as soaring fuel and sweetener costs erode profits.

The job cuts represent about 5 percent of the 6,500 people working for the nation's second largest Coke bottler, which operates predominantly in nine southeastern states. Attrition and other previous departures have already trimmed about 200 employees, with the balance of 150 representing new layoffs. The company expects to take a charge of $4 million to $5 million as a result of the job cuts.

“The past year has seen dramatic increases in the costs of goods and services required to make, sell and deliver our products,” Frank Harrison, Coke Consolidated's chief executive, said in a news release after the close of trading on Thursday. “We are saddened to eliminate any positions, but we feel these moves are necessary to manage our costs in response to the current business conditions.”

Coke Consolidated operates from a SouthPark headquarters, and its bottling plant in northwest Charlotte is one of the world's largest.

The company's stock closed Thursday at $34.16, up 2 percent, but way off its 52-week high of $64.02 last fall.

Bottlers are heavy users of corn syrup to sweeten soda, and corn prices have jumped with demand for ethanol. Bottlers also have struggled with weakening soft drink sales and higher fuel costs for their delivery fleets. Now consumers are cutting back more as they face rising prices for gas, food and other goods.

On Thursday, Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. – which supplies bottlers with the secret-formula concentrate used to flavor soda – said its second-quarter profit fell 23 percent. The world's biggest beverage company earned $1.42 billion, or 61 cents per share, compared with $1.85 billion, or 80 cents per share, in the second quarter of 2007. Revenue rose 17 percent to $9.05 billion from $7.73 billion a year earlier.

The earnings decline was driven by a one-time charge at Coca-Cola Enterprises, a huge bottler in which it owns a significant stake. The bottler took a $5.3 billion non-cash charge to write down the value of its business, blaming the deteriorating economy and cost increases for fuel and supplies such as aluminum, plastic and sweetener.

Coke Consolidated will release earnings next month.

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