Our people

Business acceleration with Net Zero direction

In an interview before Forbes Bulgaria, the General Manager of Coca-Cola HBC Bulgaria – Sasa Markovic, shares highlights of our business acceleration, sustainable development commitments, shared vision for the introduction of the deposit system in our country and the secret recipe behind the success - our team

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In light of the turbulent times we are in right now, what are your plans for investment and company development going forward? What is your secret recipe for creating stability in these dynamic times?

We are indeed finishing another challenging year, accompanied by economic, military, social and financial turbulence. Nevertheless, Coca-Cola HBC has not stopped growing its beverage portfolio, operating in 29 countries on 3 continents. We aim to be the leading 24/7 beverage partner in all our markets. How do we achieve this? By taking obstacles as opportunities. With our team and our customers, we never stop proving that together we don't just follow, we set the trends in the market - with an ever-evolving portfolio, sustainable solutions, optimized processes and record performance. Our socio-economic results also confirm that we are on the right track. The economic impact of the Coca-Cola System in Bulgaria in 2022 is expressed in an added value of 792 million BGN. We generate 1% of the country's tax revenue. In perspective, this is equivalent to 1/2 of the state budget for culture, or the cost of educating 110,000 school students per year. In fact, every BGN 1 spent on Coca-Cola drinks generates BGN 0.75 in revenue for Bulgaria, and our economic contribution amounts to 0.5% of the country's GDP.

Of course, these results make us happy, but they also oblige us. Our company has successfully coped with the exponential rise in energy and raw material prices, while at the same time, we have made investments worth more than BGN 17 million in our plants in Kostinbrod and Bankya, with a focus on improving our energy efficiency, reducing our carbon footprint and optimizing resources.

What is the secret recipe for these successes - of course, the team. I'm surrounded by people who don't just accept challenges, they prepare for them. Whether we're implementing digital innovation to benefit our customers or realigning our production lines - our team is a driving force that not only walks the beaten path, but also blazes new trails. And I'm especially happy that this year our company has been recognized as a Top Employer 2023 by the Top Employers Institute. Because it's a sign of our commitment to fostering an inclusive, dynamic and stimulating work environment and continuing to offer diverse opportunities for growth for all colleagues.

About 2 years ago, Coca-Cola HBC Bulgaria announced its ambitious commitment to achieve net zero emissions across its value chain by 2040. What steps have you taken in the past year to deliver on this commitment and what are the targets you have yet to realise?

Yes, globally we are committed to achieving net zero emissions by 2040 and it's no coincidence that we have been named the world's most sustainable beverage company for the sixth time in the Dow Jones 2022 Index. In Bulgaria, we are also actively contributing to this goal, having already reduced our direct carbon emissions by 30% ahead of schedule. We are also proud that from 2023, our production centres in Kostinbrod and Bankya can boast 100% green electricity consumption. Our innovations affect both our production processes and our market presence. Thousands of the latest-generation, energy-efficient refrigerators are already helping us save 4,300 tonnes of emissions annually in Bulgaria. As just one example of the high energy efficiency rating of our refrigerated display cabinets, each one holds 259 500ml bottles of Coca-Cola and consumes just 1.82 kWh per day... that's less energy than it takes a 100W light bulb to stay on all day. Meanwhile, our green fleet continues to transition to hybrid vehicles, which will save another 78 tons of CO2 emissions this year.

We view sustainability as a driver of positive change and growth and strive to share our initiatives transparently with our 40,000 customers and suppliers to create mutual value and discover new like-minded partners. We are convinced that innovation and strategic partnerships play a critical role, leading to more sustainable business practices and positive economic outcomes.

You can read the entire interview here.