Coca-Cola UNITED Grows by 40 percent With Georgia Territory Expansion

A mere 16 years after Coca-Cola was first served and 13 years before the distinctive Coca-Cola bottle was created, Coca-Cola Bottling Co. UNITED founder Crawford Johnson Sr. purchased the exclusive franchise rights to bottle and distribute Coca-Cola in Birmingham.

From that beginning in 1902, Business Council of Alabama member Coca-Cola UNITED recently acquired new franchise territories and production facilities in Georgia. It is now the third-largest bottler of Coca-Cola products in the United States and the largest privately held Coca-Cola bottler in the North American system.

In December 2015, Coca-Cola UNITED signed letters of intent with The Coca-Cola Company for the acquisition of Georgia territories in Athens, Dublin, Gainesville, Jasper, Lawrenceville, Macon, Rome, and metropolitan Atlanta, as well as production facilities in College Park and Marietta.

The company that makes, markets, and distributes Coca-Cola products last week announced that it has closed that transaction with The Coca-Cola Company to expand the franchise territory that includes metro Atlanta, seven additional territories in north and central Georgia, and two production facilities.

“Coca-Cola UNITED continues its amazing transformation with the addition of Atlanta and surrounding communities throughout north and central Georgia,” Coca-Cola UNITED President and CEO John Sherman said in a statement. “The magnitude of this transaction is significant, in that we are increasing the overall size of our company by some 40 percent and adding more than 2,000 associates to the UNITED family,”

“We congratulate Coca-Cola UNITED for successfully operating for 115 years that enables it today to assume tremendous growth in Georgia and better serve its significant customer base across the Southeast,” said BCA President and CEO William J. Canary. “We look forward to at least another 115 years of successful operation.”

In addition to the new associates who have joined UNITED through this acquisition, the company has added approximately 200 new jobs, an increase of 10 percent, Coca-Cola UNITED said.

Coca-Cola UNITED said it also expects to invest approximately $25 million this year on equipment, facilities, and its delivery fleet in Atlanta, as part of its commitment to providing the highest levels of customer service. Coca-Cola UNITED also plans another $100 million in local capital investments in Atlanta during the next few years, the company said.

“Coca-Cola UNITED has been a valued partner of The Coca-Cola Company for more than a century,” said J. Alexander “Sandy” Douglas Jr., president, Coca-Cola North America. “Coca-Cola UNITED has a strong heritage of serving its customers and consumers, and we are happy to have UNITED become our new partner in Atlanta, Coke’s hometown.”

“Our teams in Atlanta and throughout Georgia are ready to implement UNITED’s local operating model, which is designed to build strong local relationships, serve our customers at the highest levels, and make a positive impact through community engagement,” said Mike Suco, vice president of the Atlanta-based East Region for Coca-Cola UNITED.

Since 2014, Coca-Cola UNITED has successfully acquired 26 distribution territories and four production facilities from The Coca-Cola Company, adding approximately 6,000 new associates. Additional acquisitions resulting in continued growth of UNITED’s footprint are planned through the end of October.

For more than 115 years, local relationships, personalized customer service, and strong community engagement have been the foundation of Coca-Cola UNITED’s business.

Today, Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED, Inc. produces and distributes over 750 Coca-Cola products across seven states and employs more than 8,000 people.  By the end of this year, the company expects to have approximately 10,000 associates in 52 territories across seven Southeastern states.