USA – The Coca-Cola Company has finished the refranchising program, which has changed the shape of its North America bottling operations and reduced the number of independent bottlers across the United States from nearly 70 to three major bottlers.

The decade long journey to reshape its bottling system, Cola North America has completed the company’s largest refranchising initiative.

Similar initiatives have been initiated in Europe, Asia and Africa, as the beverages major seeks to reduce the amount of assets under its control into the hands of a few bottling partners around the World.

In North America, the company and its U.S. bottling partners have executed 60 transitions, which include 350 distribution centers, over 50 production facilities, over 55,000 employees and over 1.3 billion physical cases of volume.

Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages, a new bottler, will be in charge of operations in New York, New Jersey and the metro Philadelphia area.

It is the former Tri-State Metro Operating Unit of Coca-Cola Refreshments (CCR).

Reyes Coca-Cola Bottling has taken on new bottling territories in California and Nevada, which were previously operated by CCR.

It has also added to its existing operations parts of six Midwestern states, including the cities of Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis and Milwaukee.

Swire Coca-Cola, USA added a production facility in Colorado, adding to its existing bottling operations across six Western states.

“We are reshaping our business and accelerating our transformation to become a total beverage company,” said J. Alexander “Sandy” Douglas, Jr., president of Coca-Cola North America.

“Our system is built to respond to consumers’ needs in a fast-moving and highly competitive environment. Returning the local part of our business to where it really belongs and will best perform – in the hands of local companies – is a key enabler of the exciting transformation and growth of our business.”

The refranchised system in the US finalizes the company’s installation of Coca-Cola’s 21st Century Beverage Partnership Model that will build an agile system to deliver value to customers with scale across supply chain, information technology and customer support, says Coca-Cola.

The company says that the new system is operating on a new IT platform that will boost its efforts to digitize the Coca-Cola system and significantly improve the ability to coordinate and manage information across bottling partners at both local and national levels.

“Transforming to our new 21st Century Beverage Partnership Model makes our routes to market and our national and local partner touch points stronger than they’ve ever been,” said Todd Beiger, senior vice president, System Transformation, Coca-Cola North America.

The refranchising plan for North America will conclude with the completion of transactions in Canada and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which will be done in the first half of 2018.