Coca-Cola first came to Northern Ireland in 1939 and to the Republic of Ireland in 1952. Since then Coca-Cola has been an active part of the local communities on the island of Ireland.
1938 - Local businessman Mr Tom Robinson wrote a letter to the Coca-Cola Company in London expressing an interest in setting up the franchise in Northern Ireland.
1939 - The franchise agreement was signed with the Coca-Cola Company on 17th April. The Ulster Iced Drinks Company (UIDC) was formed in Rumford Street, off Belfast's Shankill Road. On May 3rd the first case of Coca-Cola produced in Northern Ireland was sold at a price of four old pence per bottle.
During World War II Robert Woodruff, President of Coca-Cola made a gesture to the troops; 'every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for 5c wherever he is‘. Northern Ireland was a strategic base for the repair and servicing of United States aircraft. It was estimated that nearly one million US Serviceman passed through NI in the war years.
The 1950’s saw the development of the Company's sponsorship activities, which ranged from the Lord Mayor's Show, the Ideal Home Exhibition to road safety competitions and a growing involvement with various youth organisations.
1952 – Coca-Cola arrived in the Republic of Ireland, following the set up of the first bottling company; Munster Bottlers of Cork. The plant was officially opened on 9th May by the then Parliamentary Secretary, Jack Lynch, who later became Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister).
1953 – A franchise was granted to the Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Dublin Ltd. to serve the Leinster area.
The Ulster Iced Drinks Company changed its name to Coca-Cola Bottlers Ulster Ltd (CCBU).
1963 - Fanta Orange was introduced. Production doubled. The Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Dublin Ltd. moved to new premises in Chapelizod.
1964 – CCBU brought a new property at Lambeg.
1965 – New production lines were installed at each of the plants in Dublin, Cork and Tuam.
1966 – Fanta Lemon was launched.
1968 – The new plant in Lambeg was officially opened by Captain Terence O'Neill, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. The plant produced Fanta Orange, 7UP and Coca-Cola, with a production line turning out fifty million bottles per year. Distribution was carried out from the CCBU warehouses in Ballymoney, Londonderry and Omagh.
1971 – Coca-Cola Bottling Co. entered into a sponsorship agreement with the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) to sponsor the Féile na nGael which is the Under 14s hurling, camogie and handball championships.
1972 - The Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Dublin Ltd. was purchased by John Daly Co.
1977 – Leventis, a company with Nigeria Coca-Cola bottling operations acquired John Daly Co. and bought Fitzwilton’s share of Coca-Cola Bottlers Ulster.
1978 – New equipment was installed and the new production lines went into production. The company introduced Lilt to the local marketplace. Plastic bottles made of PET were introduced, followed by the family sized 26oz glass bottles.
1981 – Coca-Cola Bottling Co. moved to a new manufacturing plant at Western Industrial Estate, Naas Road, Dublin 12. The Lambeg plant was extended by building new warehouse extensions and offices.
1983 – Diet Coke was launched. A new PET line was installed for the 1.5 and 2 litre bottles.
1986 – Leventis acquired Coca-Cola Western Bottlers.
1989 – Mr Terence Robinson retired as Chairman of CCBU.
1990 – Spite was launched in Northern Ireland.
1994 – Deep RiverRock still and sparkling were introduced to the island of Ireland market.
The 1990’s also saw an increase in the company’s sponsorship and community support, with major sports sponsorship deals activated and employees became involved in charity fundraising. Programmes such as the Coca-Cola Form and Fusion fashion show engaged with secondary school students to encourage environmental awareness and recycling.
2001 – Sprite was launched in the Republic of Ireland.
2004 – Launch of the Coca-Cola Designated Driver campaign in Ireland.
2005 – A 45 acre site at Knockmore Hill, Lisburn, Co. Antrim was chosen as prime position for Coca-Cola’s new all Ireland bottling plant.
2007 – Production began at this new manufacturing facility. In November, the final bottles were produced in Dublin. Coke Zero was launched.
2008 – Following a period of transition, production at the Lambeg plant ceased. In Dublin employees relocated to a new office facility at Hunstown Business Park. Energy brand, Burn was launched.
Coca-Cola Bottlers (Ulster) Ltd. and Coca-Cola Bottlers Ireland are now officially known as Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland and Coca-Cola HBC Ireland respectively. This reflects both organisations’ membership of the 28 country Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company (CCHBC).
Coca-Cola HBC Ireland and Northern Ireland continue to actively invest in the local community, working in partnership with charity, community and environmental organisations on meaningful initiatives that benefit others and demonstrate the company’s commitment to corporate responsibility .
As an organisation, we have received external accreditation for our commitment to investing in the community in which we operate.
For more information on current Coca-Cola bottling operations on the island of Ireland please see the ‘About Us’ section.
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