The Chief Executive Officer of Coca-Cola, Muhtar Kent will be stepping down on May 1 after nearly a decade with the firm. He will be replaced by the qualified James Quincey, the company’s current Chief Operating Officer, who has been contributing to Coke’s expansion efforts in Europe and Mexico for nearly 20 years. Kent will remain with the company and will move forward serving as the chairman of the board of directors.
The change in management comes as Coca-Cola and other soda manufacturers face pressures from the growing health-focused consumer population. Sales have also been sliding due to sugar and soda taxes in various cities across the country. Many are confident that Quincey is capable of navigating the company through this shift, as he has been credited with introducing smaller containers to boost profit and new recipes aimed at reducing sugar and calorie content in drinks. The company also plans to focus on growing their sparkling beverage business as well as push into other drink categories to continue attracting consumers.
Warren Buffet, a prominent Coca-Cola shareholder, expressed his support of the move, calling Kent an “excellent steward of Coca-Cola’s business over the last eight years” and said he is “thankful for the leadership he has provided to put in place the right vision, strategy and thoughtful succession plan for long-term success.” Investors also seemed pleased with the news as shares were up 2.5% in afternoon trading after the announcement was made.