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|Monday, August 14, 2000, updated at 11:14(GMT+8)|
Coca-Cola Aims to Double its China Business in 5 YearsThe Coca-Cola Company will strive to double its business in China in the next five years, said Jack Stahl, president and chief operating officer of the US giant soft drink maker on Sunday.
Stahl began his six-day visit to China on Thursday, the first since he became president of Coca-Cola. He told the Chinese press that he thoroughly reviewed the company's business in China with the local company leaders and its bottling partners.
"We would hope and target we can double our business over the next five years in China," he said. "I have heard for many years about the huge opportunities here. I think the thing that strikes me most (in the visit) is how real and exciting that opportunity is."
Coca-Cola re-entered the Chinese market in 1979. Over the past 20 years, it has established, with its Chinese partners, 23 bottling plants and 27 production locations. Total investment adds up to more than 1.1 billion U.S. dollars, and local employment reached 15,000.
The 20 year development of the company in China "is very exciting," he said, adding that its business in China "in many ways is just beginning." He stressed his company will take a new approach to achieve the goal of development in the new century.
"The idea is to become a local marketing company, taking advantage of the production capacity already in place, and at the same time seeking new locations for production to build the business in the western part of the country," he said.
After the Coca-Cola crisis in Europe last year, Stahl, who assumed his current office last February, said that his company has changed its strategy to "think local, act local." That means they have to get closer to local communities and people.
Stahl said he now spends about 70 to 80 percent of his time traveling around the world, helping to develop relationships, to reinforce the direction of his company, and to "work with our bottlers and customers and our local people to grow the business aggressively."
The company is now moving its division office from Hong Kong to Shanghai, as part of its new strategy for the development of its business in China. It has also developed new soft drinks like ice tea that some local consumers favor.
The president said Coca-Cola pays close attention to China's entry into the World Trade Organization and the country's strategy to develop its vast western areas. He said his company will continue to "invest aggressively" in China.
He said China could someday become Coca-Cola's largest market in the world.
"It is difficult to predict (when that day will come), but everything I see here for a very short period of time tells me that I want to come back a lot to help that to happen, and help it happen quickly," he said. "Just given the optimism and excitement within the country, I think it's a very real possibility."
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