KATHMANDU, Sept 11: Coca-Cola Sabco, the South African bottling company that owns majority stake of Bottlers Nepal, is gearing up to invest US$ 25 million (about Rs 2.22 billion) within a year in Nepal, eyeing to expand its products line and introduce global juice and bottled drinking water brand in the local market.
“That is not all. If things moved smoothly, Nepal will receive a fresh investment totaling $50 million (almost Rs 4.5 billion) within the next three years,” Salman Latif Rawn, country manager of Coca-Cola Sabco for Nepal, said.
Talking to Republica, Rawn disclosed that the new investments will fundamentally go into increasing the production capacity of its bottling plant in Bharatpur. Coca-Cola Sabco presently operates with two bottling plants -- one in Kathmandu and other in Bharatpur, Chitwan.
“Under our expansion drive, we are extending the production line in Bharatpur. It will be a high speed line, which will more than double our production capacity and enable us come up with new products like juices and bottled water,” said Rawn.
Together, the new production lines will ensure round the year supply of drinking water and juices. This could create employment for 150 persons in the production plant alone and altogether employ 500 persons directly.
The number of indirect employments will be far too higher as a large number of people will be engaged in the distribution system and retailing of the new products, said Rawn.
Rawn, however, did not disclose the brands that the company will introduce in Nepal. “Specialists based in our Indian bottling company are working it out. So we ourselves are still to be sure of brands that we will launch here,” he stated.
The company decided to add new products in its existing line of Coca-Cola, Fanta and Sprite in Nepal as the market of juice and bottled water has expanded significantly in the country.
“Juice and bottled drinking water are growing businesses all over the world and almost all Coca-Cola companies have been producing them internationally. Hence, we decided to jump into their productions in Nepal as well,” said Rawn.
Coca-Cola Sabco has been producing various brands of juices like Appletiser, Grapetiser, Mazoe and Minute Maid in different territories. Likewise, its international bottled drinking water brands include ones like BonAqua, Dasani and Valpre.
However, Rawn complained that the company has been facing difficulty in getting a green signal from the tax authority to install a software system called SAP, which is crucial for the company for expansion.
“As we have different products in different countries, our company relies on SAP to keep track of productivity of all our plants and performances of each and every product across the globe. It fundamentally helps us generate a comprehensive picture of overall production system,” he said, adding: “Hence, the software is important for us.”
In order to get the clearance, the company has even promised prompt access, inspection and cross-checking of facts into the system to the tax authority. However, the tax office has yet to respond positively.