Markets News

UPDATE 2-European Coke bottler to hike ad spend for returning events

* Coca Cola HBC turns to targeted marketing

* Sales for at-home and restaurant consumption rise

* Will operate with more marketing funds next year - CEO (Recasts with executive comments from interview)

Nov 11 (Reuters) - Coca Cola HBC said it will be raising its advertising spending in 2021 to target returning events as a rebound in demand from restaurants helped the soft drinks bottler beat third-quarter sales estimates on Wednesday.

The company, which bottles and sells Coca-Cola drinks in 28 countries, on Wednesday posted sales of 1.83 billion euros ($2.16 billion), above a consensus here of 1.79 billion euros.

HBC’s at-home channel, which contributes nearly 60% of HBC’s revenue, grew by mid-single digits in the quarter, while business consumption also improved, HBC said.

Drinks companies have been left saddled with too much product meant for businesses as shoppers in lockdowns bought from grocery stores instead.

Chief Executive Officer Zoran Bogdanovic told Reuters there will be more marketing funds in 2021 versus this year as the company expects to see “some kind of new normal.”

“We will be activating Easter, Euro cup (European soccer championship) - which was moved from this year to 2021 - and we also hope that there will be the Olympics sometime in the third quarter from where we stand now,” he said.

Many sporting and cultural events were scrapped this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but hopes are running high for their return after drug company Pfizer’s positive results on its coronavirus vaccine candidate this week.

HBC has also cut costs to cushion the blow from the pandemic, and on Wednesday, its finance chief Michalis Imellos told Reuters “a good proportion” of its 120 million euros of savings it made are going to be permanent because of the shift in office working.

U.S.-based Coca-Cola owns a 23.2% stake in Coca-Cola HBC, Refinitiv data showed. ($1 = 0.8457 euros)

Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. and Elaine Hardcastle