Coca-Cola Amatil has reversed a steep decline in beverage volumes in the route trade in NSW by hiring dozens of sales staff to liaise with food shops and convenience stores.

Managing director Alison Watkins told the bottler’s annual meeting in Sydney on Wednesday that volumes in the “immediate consumption” channel in metro NSW had risen 2 per cent in the year to date after falling 11 per cent in the year-earlier period.

CCA has hired 97 sales and business development staff to visit small stores more often, encourage them to buy stock and give tips on how to boost consumption of soft drinks, juice and bottled water.

Ms Watkins said most of the benefits from the nationwide rollout of the “feet on the street” initiative were expected to flow through in the second half of next year.

She reiterated that this year would be another “transition” year and CCA would not meet its target for mid-single-digit growth in earnings per share because of heavy investment in Australia aimed at reversing a long-term decline in volumes.

“We remain committed to our shareholder value proposition targeting a return to delivery of mid-single-digit earnings per share growth from 2020,” she said.

“This will depend on the success of revenue growth initiatives in Australia, Indonesian economic factors and regulatory conditions in each of our markets.”

CCA is expecting one-off costs in Australian beverages of up to $30 million this year, but these are likely to be partly offset by one-off gains from further property sales.

Extracted from AFR