Tampa soda company Cott to cut jobs, production

TAMPA — Cott Corp., the soft drink maker that relocated its executive offices from Canada to Tampa last fall to save money, is chopping an additional $43-million in costs. That means more layoffs and production line shutdowns in its 23 bottling plants.

The world's biggest maker of store-brand carbonated soft drinks, Cott did not attach a head count to the impending job cuts. But half the cost reductions will come from payroll, and Cott earmarked $8-million for severance payments.

It was one of several bitter pills the company, which lost $89-million the past two fiscal years, will swallow as North America's thirst for carbonated soft drinks continues to decline and commodities prices soar. Other steps outlined in a conference call Thursday are:

• Return attention to the store-brand business including Sam's Choice, the Wal-Mart soft drink line that accounts for 40 percent of Cott's business.

• Scale back new brands in other beverage categories. The company last year launched four new brands to make up for dwindling soft-drink sales: Emerge, a nutrient-infused bottled water; Throwdown with taurine, an energy drink; Zing Tea; and Fortifido, a bottled water for pets.

Cott's share price rebounded 19 percent on the news, closing Thursday at $2.99, up 48 cents. The stock had lost half it value this year.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

Cott Corp.

2007 revenues: $1.8-billion

Headquarters: Near Tampa International Airport, and a bottling plant at 4506 Acline Drive in Tampa.

Employees: 3,000, about 250 in Tampa Bay area.

Products: 67 percent of store-brand soft drinks in North America including Sam's Choice for Wal-Mart and private labels for Sweetbay, Costco,

7-Eleven, Albertsons, USave and Dollar General.

Sources: Cott Corp., SEC filings

Tampa soda company Cott to cut jobs, production 06/19/08 [Last modified: Thursday, June 19, 2008 10:40pm]

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