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Friday, April 1, 2011

Coca-Cola's $15m Christchurch plant

Coca-Cola's $15m Christchurch plant

Last updated 05:00 02/04/2011
Coca-Cola Amatil (NZ) Ltd's $15 million investment in a bottle manufacturing and filling operation at its Christchurch plant has been welcomed by Prime Minister John Key.

Mr Key visited Coca-Cola Amatil's Woolston plant and commended the company for contributing to the momentum needed by the city.

The company's investment sent a strong message about its belief in Christchurch and the significance of Christchurch to the South Island.

It was "absolutely the right decision" and could not have come at a better time, Mr Key said.

Managing director George Adams said the company had decided pre-February 22 to make the investment, but it had had to "pause" after the earthquake and ask some hard questions about its future in Christchurch.

Coca-Cola Amatil had decided to proceed with the investment as it had good customers and a big population there.

The decision was a vote of confidence in the future of Christchurch as an economic hub, he said.

The company spent $25m to $30m annually with its Canterbury-based suppliers, Mr Adams said.

The Woolston plant was seriously damaged by the earthquake.

The company would continue to employ its more than 140 staff who were helping clean up the plant and being redeployed to other activities until the plant was back running in August.

Structural repair work was under way.

The new facility would use faster and more efficient Blowfill technology, producing up to 16,000 filled bottles per hour.

The investment would place the plant on par with most modern plants in the world.

The company was missing between 600 and 700 customers because of the damage caused by February's earthquake and it was doing what it could to help them by easing credit terms, supplying new refrigerators and even helping with the cleanup. Mr Adams said the company's own insurance claim for repairs to its Woolston plant was in the "tens of millions".

Commissioning of the new Blowfill technology is to start in four to six weeks.

New Zealand Food and Grocery Council chief executive Katherine Rich said the announcement was good news for New Zealand's food and beverage manufacturing sector as a whole.

"It's great to see such a major grocery manufacturer and employer demonstrating that it sees Christchurch remaining the commercial hub of the South Island, and backing that judgment with a major investment," she said.

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