Creating an effective organisational structure
A Coca-Cola Great Britain case study

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Page 4: The corporate segment -Head Office

The Coca-Cola Company has a corporate (Head Office) segment that is responsible for giving the Company an overall direction and providing support to the regional structure.

Key strategic decisions at The Coca-Cola Company are made by an Executive Committee of 12 Company Officers. This Committee helped to shape the six strategic priorities set out earlier. The Chair of the Executive Committee acts as a figurehead for the Company and chairs the board meetings. He is also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and as such he is the senior decision maker. Other executives are responsible either for the major regions (e.g. Africa) or have an important business specialism e.g. the Chief Financial Officer.

As a company whose success rests on its ability to connect with local consumers, it makes sense for The Coca-Cola Company to be organised into a regional structure which combines centralisation and localisation. The Company operates six geographic operating segments - also called Strategic Business Units (SBUs) - as well as the corporate (Head Office) segment.

Each of these regional SBUs is sub-divided into divisions. Take the European union, SBU, for example. The UK fits into the Northwest Europe division. This geographical structure recognises that:

  • markets are geographically separated
  • tastes and lifestyles vary from area to area. As do incomes and consumption patterns
  • markets are at different stages of development.

At a more local level the management of The Coca-Cola Company involves a number of functional specialisms. The management structure for Great Britain illustrates this.

The structure of Coca-Cola Great Britain combines elements of centralisation and decentralisation. Divisions and regions operate as business unit teams, with each Director reporting to the General Manager, i.e. Division President.

However, there is a matrix structure for each function e.g. the Finance Director in the GB Division reports to the GB President, but also to (dotted line) the Finance Director of North West Europe Division. In addition, functions within the Company operate across geographical boundaries to share best practice.

To take another example of local decision making at a regional (local) level the various SBUs are responsible for region-specific market research, and for developing local advertising, e.g. using the languages of the countries in which The Coca-Cola Company operates. A major region like Great Britain has its own marketing structure, organised as shown on the diagram.

Product support

The way The Coca-Cola Company works reflects the many countries and cultures in which it does business. It owns or licences nearly 400 brands in non-alcoholic beverages serving consumers in over 200 countries. An essential part of the organisation's structure therefore focuses on ensuring that individual products are given the best possible support in regional markets.

Within the Company, different teams concentrate on particular products and use their specialist knowledge of the brands and consumer needs to support the sales and promotional effort. In some cases a product is developed solely for local consumption and an example of this is the product Lilt, which is only available in Great Britain and Ireland.

Examples of other products available in Great Britain include:

  • Carbonated soft drinks- Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite
  • Juice & juice drinks- Schweppes' Tomato Juice Cocktail, Oasis, Five Alive
  • Waters- Malvern
  • Energy drinks- Burn
  • Sports drinks- Powerade
  • Squashes/cordials- Kia-Ora, Rose's Lime Cordial.

Coca-Cola Great Britain | Creating an effective organisational structure