Page 5: Coca-Cola bottling franchises in Great Britain
Coca-Cola first came to Great Britain in 1900 when Charles Candler, son of the company's founder, Asa Candler, brought a jug of the syrup with him on a holiday visit and introduced the drink to a soda fountain owner in London. However, it was not until the 1920s that sales began to be significant. The Coca-Cola Company began bottling in a small plant in Brighton in 1932. By 1939, there were seven bottling plants - five owned by the parent company and two - one in Glasgow and the other in Belfast - by licensed bottlers. The war put a temporary halt to most of these operations until the late 1940s when operations set up again, principally in the hands of franchised bottling organisations.
The most significant new change was in 1987 when The Coca-Cola Company and Cadbury Schweppes plc. set up a jointly owned company to handle the soft drinks of both parent companies. Coca-Cola in cans, initially imported but then later filled by contract canners, were first marketed in the UK in 1961. In 1976, however, the company opened its own canning plant at Milton Keynes with its first line, at the forefront of technology in its time, capable of filling 1,500 cans a minute. Ten years later, when the company was celebrating its centenary, a second line was added with a filling speed of 2,000 cans a minute - then the fastest in the world.
Within four years of its existence, at a cost of £60 million, Coca-Cola and Schweppes Beverages Limited had opened Europe's biggest soft drinks production complex at Wakefield, with two lines capable of filling 2,000 cans a minute - to give a production capacity of over five million cans a day. In Northern Ireland, The Ulster Iced Drinks company Ltd, having been given a franchise in 1939, was given a new franchise and today operates as Coca-Cola Bottlers (Ulster) Ltd. This company is now owned by the Leventis Group, which also holds the franchise for the Republic of Ireland.
Products for home consumption are usually purchased through supermarkets in larger quantities and at a lower unit price than other distribution channels. Coca-Cola bottling franchisees work in close association with retailers and wholesalers to identify the sorts of packaging and quantities that home consumers prefer and to ensure packaging mixes, brands and flavours, merchandising and promotion, as well as stock and shelving are appropriate for the needs of consumers.