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Refresco looking to expand, not cut

Whenever a company is sold locally, employees and the community brace for changes. However, Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director Kevin Sanvidge said cuts are not expected with the sale of Cott’s beverage production to Netherlands-based Refresco Inc.

“It’s a very large soft drink manufacturer in Europe and they bought Cott because they want a presence in the United States; they’re very large in Europe, but they have no presence in the United States. Cott decided to go in a different direction to keep their specialty coffee and water business and sell off their juice and soft drinks. This is a very good thing for the Dunkirk plant and the employees of Dunkirk Cott because Refresco has a very strong balance sheet and they are looking to grow their presence in the United States. The Dunkirk plant in one of the most efficient in North America. So new owners, but it looks like the employees will be in good shape and hopefully they’ll invest and grow the Dunkirk facility,” he said in an interview with the OBSERVER.

Sanvidge said Cott currently has around 450 employees and he doesn’t expect that number to decrease.

“Refresco bought Cott, the whole juice and soft drink business, to gain entry into the United States and North American market with the idea and the strategic plan to grow the business and meet and exceed their shareholders’ needs. So, if they plan on growing the business, you cannot do that with less employees,” he reasoned.

The announcement that Cott sold its beverage manufacturing business to Refresco for $1.25 billion was announced Tuesday. In 2010, Cott acquired privately held Cliffstar Corp., the leading private-label manufacturer of shelf-stable juices. Cliffstar began over 100 years ago, when Meyer Star settled in the Dunkirk-Fredonia area. Refresco makes similar products in Europe.

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