Coca-Cola chief says beverage giant making progress improving employee morale

The chief executive of The Coca-Cola Co. said Wednesday the world's largest beverage maker has made progress over the last year improving employee morale, which has helped boost sales and profits.

CEO Neville Isdell told an investor conference in New York that his goal to get employees of the Atlanta-based company to work better together is working.

A year ago, Isdell had said Coke was having problems with morale and execution amid the rapid exodus of several top executives. The result was profits and volume growth in certain sectors were not hitting the levels the company wanted.

In October, Coca-Cola reported a 37 percent jump in third-quarter profit on strong sales in many parts of the world. The results beat Wall Street expectations. The company plans other changes.

Mary Minnick, head of marketing, strategy and innovation at Coke, said the company's advertising goal in 2006 is to make the company's beverages more relevant to consumers.

She said the company has been studying "the underlying psychology of beverages" to understand "why consumers are drinking what, when and where." The goal is to sell the brand, not just the beverage, Minnick said.

Isdell said there is more accountability within the company, and he noted officials have gone outside the company to hire several new top executives. He said 50 percent of Coke's leadership team are in new roles. Of that, he said 40 percent are external hires, the AP reports.

He said that in the past "there wasn't a common agenda. There wasn't a clear way forward. Coke shares fell 53 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $42.01 in afternoon trading Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.


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