Coca-Cola Shakes Up Global Management

Coca-Cola Co. (KO) on Wednesday announced the retirement of the head of its European division in a shakeup of its global marketing and advertising groups to combat sluggish sales.

It said it was also realigning its group structures and reporting lines for its business in Europe, Asia, Eurasia and the Middle East.

Mary Minnick, president of Coca-Cola Asia for the past four years, will lead the new unit overseeing coordination of marketing, innovation and strategic growth.

Chuck Fruit, chief marketing officer, and Danny Strickland, chief innovation/research and development officer, will report to Minnick, along with a head of strategic growth paths who is yet to be named.

Sandy Allan, president of Europe, Eurasia and Middle East since July 2001 and a Coke employee since 1968, will retire, the company said.

In January, Javier Benito, Coke's chief marketing officer for the North American unit, resigned after 10 years with the company as part of the wider restructuring of marketing and advertising.

A new EU group will include all of Coke's operations in the EU member states as well as the European Free Trade Association countries. It will be led by Dominique Reiniche, most recently president of Coca-Cola Enterprises Europe (search).

Coca-Cola also announced the creation of two new operating groups: a North Asia, Eurasia and Middle East group; and a Southeast Asia and Pacific Rim group.

The company said the changes would be effective from May 1, 2005.

Coca-Cola is currently seeking to increase sluggish soft drink sales in North America and other key markets while combating a consumer revolt against regular soft drinks and other sugar-laced, high-calorie products.

Recent innovations from the company have included a version of Diet Coke sweetened with Splenda as well as Coca-Cola Zero (search), a diet version of its Coca-Cola Classic drink, and a lime version of the flagship Coca Cola brand.