Soft drinks bottler Coca Cola HBC AG on Wednesday topped estimates for third-quarter revenue as relaxed COVID-19 restrictions during the summer helped demand rebound at restaurants, theatres and other public places.
Declines in the out-of-home channel improved to high-single digits from peak lockdown lows of 70%-90%, with the total number of bottled units sold slipping to 1.4% in the reported quarter.
The company said at-home channel returned to growth in July and grew by mid-single digits in the third quarter, helped by special offers for lunches and dinners, get-togethers and TV viewing.
'Too Much Product'
Soft drink bottlers have been saddled with too much product meant for restaurants as shoppers in lockdowns preferred to buy cases of fizzy drinks from grocery stores, which are stocked with bigger and less-profitable packages.
Chief Executive Officer Zoran Bogdanovic said growth in the at-home channel, which contributes to nearly 60% of HBC's revenue, was encouraging and will be important for the current quarter as Europe heads into another round of lockdowns.
"Combined with the increasing impact of our cost savings programmes this should allow us to continue to deliver good profitability in a severely disrupted year," he said.
The company, which bottles and sells Coca-Cola drinks in 28 countries, said net sales revenue for the three months ended 25 September stood at €1.83 billion ($2.16 billion), above a company-provided consensus of €1.79 billion.
Coca-Cola Co owns a 23.2% stake in Coca-Cola HBC, making the U.S.-based company its second-biggest shareholder, Refinitiv data showed.