American beverage giants Coca-Cola officially opened their new $100 million production plant on Monday with a ceremony presided over by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who revealed during his speech that he only put Coca-Cola and mineral water on his living room table at home.
The 25,000-square-metre facility has been built on a 12.5-hectare plot leased by Coca-Cola inside the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on the Western outskirts of town along National Highway 4. It replaces the company’s Russey Keo plant, which has been in operation since 1993.
B2B caught up with David Wigglesworth, general manager of Coca-Cola in Cambodia, to discuss the impressive new facility, the reasons behind the company’s substantial investment in Cambodia and their plans for the future:
What are the current number of production lines of the new plant and what will happen to the old facility?
This new plant has begun with two production lines, with an option of installing an additional six production lines as demand warrants. The old plant will continue to serve as a commercial office and city warehouse, and will also be used as a warehouse for cooling and marketing equipment, along with sales training facilities.
How many staff will be employed in total to run operations and where are they being sourced from?
The new facility will be run 100% by Cambodian people, a total of nearly 300 who are living in Phnom Penh. We provide transportation with our Happy Bus that is equipped with Wi-Fi, phone chargers and refreshments to all of our employees to ensure their safety and energy when they come to work.
What range of products will be made at the plant, and are they solely for the Cambodian market?
Beside the world’s number one sparkling beverage Coca-Cola, we have other six brands including carbonated and still beverages Fanta, Sprite, Aquarius, Samurai, Schweppes and Dasani water.
Our mission is to refresh Cambodia, to inspire moments of optimism and happiness and to create value and make a difference. We aim to provide beverages that suit every lifestyle, every life stage and every occasion. The product innovation would be focused on consumer needs based on today’s market, and accounting for the evolutionary tastes of the consumer. At this stage we will focus on refreshing the local market.
What are the modern features of the new facility, especially in regards to technology, energy efficiency and environmental impact?
This new factory will be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) certified and includes features such as a 2.5-hectare solar farm on the roof supplying roughly a third of our energy consumption, as well as rainwater harvesting, building lighting automation, can ionized air rinsing and low energy conveyor motors.
The end-to-end processes adopted by the Cambodia Beverage Company (Coca-Cola’s local subsidiary) for manufacturing our beverages are of state-of-the-art design with regards to maintaining top quality products whilst ensuring environmental values are upheld.
Why did Coca-Cola choose Cambodia to establish such a huge factory, and what are the main advantages for locating it inside of the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone?
Our projections have indicated that the proposed plant in Cambodia would be able to enhance our business prospects for the region. There is substantial potential for growth in the country and we have a long-term view for our business here.
There is political and economic stability here and for the last 20 years, Cambodia’s GDP has grown 7% annually. For the last four years, our volume has grown steadily, and we have the support of the local workforce and find the talent here very qualified.
What plans does the Coca-Cola company have for future operations in the region, such as new products and distribution links?
We have had a business presence in the Kingdom for more than 20 years. We believe in the future of Cambodia and our business, but it is too early to comment at this stage for further investment since we have just started our $100 million investment in the country.
This interview has been edited for clarity.