The Coca-Cola Company, Castel Group part ways, bestows bottling rights to new partner in Gabon

GABON – The Coca-Cola Company has transferred the exclusive bottling and distribution rights of its carbonated soft beverage portfolio in Gabon to manufacturing conglomerate Foberd.

The agreement follows the cessation of partnership that spanned nearly 25 years, between the drinks giant and Castel Group’s subsidiary, Sobraga.

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Production of the Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite and Schweppes brands will now be undertaken at Foberd’s Sofavinc agro-industrial complex, which also produces carbonated soft drinks under the brand name Sinalco.

The unit also undertakes production of energy drinks, fruit juice, wine and spirits, in addition to having a flour milling plant.

Coca-Cola’s previous bottler in the country, Sobraga, distributes and markets Vimto and sells its own cola under the World Cola and D’jino brands.

The change in custodianship is part of a wider exit of Castel-owned bottlers from Coca-Cola partnerships in the region.

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Coca-Cola has publicly announced its strategy to change bottlers in Angola, Egypt, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon where Foberd has operations through its sister company Sofavinc (Société de Fabrication des Vins du Cameroun), a major soft and alcoholic drinks maker.

In Malawi, Castel Group’s operating unit has agreed to offload its soft beverage unit, Southern Bottlers Limited (SOBO) to Coca-Cola Beverages Limited a subsidiary of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa.

SOBO produces Coca-Cola, Fanta, Sprite, Cherry Plum, Cocopina, SOBO Squash and several others brands in the South African market.

CCBA is the 8th largest Coca-Cola bottling partner in the world by revenue, and the largest on the continent.

It accounts for 40 percent of all Coca-Cola products sold in Africa by volume. With over 16,000 employees in Africa, CCBA services millions of customers with a host of international and local brands.

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Its African footprint now encompasses South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Mozambique, Comoros, Mayotte, Zambia, Botswana, Eswatini and Lesotho.

The transaction is subject to obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals, including approval by the Common Market of East & Southern Africa (COMESA) Competition Commission.

Castel Malawi’s parent company has given nod to the deal and the management has assured the staff that it is not planning to give any contract termination or retrenchment packages to employees.

Castel Malawi Limited was formerly known as Carlsberg Malawi which was established in 1955 when the first Coca-Cola products were produced in Malawi under the company name Nyasaland Bottling Company.

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