Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC), one of the biggest Coca-Cola bottlers in Europe with operations stretching from Ireland to Russia, is now about to branch out into the snack market as well.
The company has announced this morning that it is in negotiations with the Greek potato chip producer Tsakiris - the second biggest brand in the Greek market with a share of around 10 per cent - with a view to an eventual takeover.
The move is an unusual one for CCHBC, which has been steadily expanding its soft drink, juices and mineral water businesses over the last few years, but managing director Doros Constantinou said that there was a logic behind the acquisition.
"This transaction brings CCHBC a well-known Greek brand with significant potential. We will be able to leverage our unique domestic scale and infrastructure to develop the strong heritage of this brand. While we remain focused on our core strategy, Tsakiris complements well our diverse non-alcoholic beverage portfolio in Greece," he said.
Tsakiris has annual sales of around €6 million, CCHBC said, and would be a not insignificant addition to the company's business in its home market. CCHBC did not say how much it hoped to pay for the snack maker, or when it expected the deal to be completed.
While Coca-Cola has traditionally fought shy of diversifying into other areas of the food and drink industry, arch rival PepsiCo has successfully managed both its soft drinks arm and its snack business, Frito-Lay, with the latter proving to be just as successful as the eponymous cola brand.
Whether this is simply an opportunistic bid by CCHBC to add scale in the Greek market or the first signs of a new strategy to build a snack business alongside its drinks units remains to be seen, but there is certainly the potential for the latter in many of the markets where the bottler operates.
CCHBC has consolidated its positions in a number of east European markets in particular with the acquisition of local drinks manufacturers (in Poland and in Romania, for example) and it could build its businesses there even further with snack acquisitions. The client base for soft drinks and snacks is broadly the same, meaning that it could leverage its distribution networks in many markets by adding additional products.
In any case, there are likely to be more acquisitions from the Greek company in the future - though whether they will be drinks or snacks producers remains to be seen.