Mumbai: India seems set to be the next battleground for aggressive cola wars with Coca-Cola drawing up ambitious plans for its future in the country, and the company's CEO Edward Neville Isdell admitting on his recent visit to the country, that rival PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi ''drives us to compete very hard.''
Isdell said there are plans to invest around $250 million in Coke's Indian operations over the next three years, terming these investments as necessary for growth. This translates to a momentous Rs10,000 crore.
''We are bullish on India. It is a matter of stimulation... as the growth comes, you have to put in incremental investments'', he said, adding, ''This will not be the last. More investments will come''. Even though Coke had turned profitable for the first time in India, Isdell was quite emphatic about the future responsibility on the shoulders of the management in India, especially that of Coca-Cola India CEO Atul Singh, when he said that they have to put the basics together and remove the drags on growth, stressing that ''the company faces a challenge to maintain and accelerate growth'' in an India that is ''growing phenomenally.''
He was one of the few who found merits in a weakening dollar, citing that along with strong growth in emerging markets, like India and Latin America, as contributing to major global growth in 2008. He also said that India, currently ranked 17 on Coke's list of markets in terms of volumes, had been one of the best markets in the previous year, and he expected it to occupy a position amongst the top ten in the near future. This seems a distinct possibility, because India is already one of the top five markets in terms of growth of the soft drinks market.
In addition to the usual corporate meetings and brainstorming sessions, Isdell managed to also pack-in a trip to Bandhavgarh National Park, and the Taj Mahal in his busy schedule.
The Coca-Cola Company is the largest manufacturer, distributor and marketer of non-alcoholic beverage concentrates and syrups in the world, and one of the largest corporations in the United States. It is headquartered in Atlanta and had revenues of $28.9 billion in 2007. Its flagship product, Coca-Cola, is the best-selling soft drink in most countries in the world.