Sales declines at Costa Coffee has led to Coca-Cola’s international unit swinging to a loss.

Revenues fell sharply last year as the pandemic shut thousands of its coffee shops and some customers stayed away from city centres once cafés reopened.

Coca-Cola, which bought the brand from Whitbread in 2018, said pressure on Costa had “primarily driven” a vast swing out of profitability endured by its key unit of brands identified for international expansion.

Its global ventures division, which also includes Innocent Smoothies, reported an operating loss of $9m (£6.5m) in the last quarter.

Tea and coffee declined 15% for the quarter and 17% for the year, primarily driven by coronavirus-related pressure on Costa retail stores, Coco-Cola reported.

Revenue declines at Costa coffee shops were partially offset by a strong performance in Costa Express machines in the UK.

The drinks company expects to return to growth this year after accelerating a move to cut costs.

Total sales declined by 5% to $8.6bn (£6.2bn) in the last quarter. They dropped by more than a tenth across 2020 as restaurants and bars were closed.

James Quincey, the group’s British-born chairman and CEO, said that “near-term uncertainty” persists, but stressed that Coca-Cola was “well-positioned to emerge stronger” from the crisis.

 

 

 

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