Coca Cola India

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Are Happy Days Here Again for Coca-Cola India?: India Knowledge@Wharton (

Are Happy Days Here Again for Coca-Cola India?

Published : March 11, 2010 in India Knowledge@Wharton

Atul Singh became president of Coca-Cola's India and South West Asia business unit in 2005, when a lot of things were going wrong for the company. Controversy was at its height over allegedly high levels of pesticides in soft drinks; Coca-Cola faced accusations of overexploiting groundwater resources in the state of Kerala; revenues were down from the previous year; and not everything was running smoothly among the subsidiary's senior management team. To boot, archrival Pepsi was gaining ground in the marketplace. Today, the story is different, according to Singh, who joined the company in 1998. " Coca-Cola in India over the past few years has clearly turned the corner," he told India Knowledge@Wharton in a recent interview. An edited transcript of the conversation follows. India Knowledge@Wharton: Could you describe the businesses that make up Coca-Cola?

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Atul Singh: The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company, [offering] more than 500 sparkling and still [non-carbonated] brands. Coca-Cola in India has a diverse portfolio of sparkling beverages including Thums Up, Coca-Cola and Sprite, and still beverages like juice drinks Minute Maid and Maaza, packaged water, tea and coffee.

India Knowledge@Wharton: For the first time since it returned to India in 1993, Coca-Cola India is profitable. Why did it take 16 years? Singh: After re-entering India in 1993, our focus was to settle in and invest in brands, bottling infrastructure and local talent. In a short time, Coca-Cola India became the...