Our presence in Poland began in 1957. During the years, our products were a symbol of freedom. Here is our story.
Coca‑Cola came to Poland for the first time ever during the Poznań Fair in 1957. It then appeared in the 1960s, initially in the accounts of Poles who were able to cross the Western border, then in Pewex and Baltona stores, where it was available for convertible currencies. The younger generation wouldn’t know – but in those days, the drink was a synonym for luxury and freedom.
It was not until 1971, during Edward Gierek’s rule, that a representative of The Coca‑Cola Company came from Rome for negotiations. Coca‑Cola production was launched in Warsaw in July 1972. Coca‑Cola was then manufactured under license agreement by the Warsaw-based brewing plant. It was soon joined by the breweries in Zabrze (since 1973) and Tychy (since 1978).
In October 1972, the Wolomin glassworks started producing bottles first, and the ERK plastic works in Bielun Stary starting producing special 24-slot cases.
1976 - 1990
The demand for Coca‑Cola exceeded expectations. In 1976, the annual production volume reached 176 hectolitres. And it was not surprising since the newspapers ran such stories:
“As of yesterday, one can buy 1-litre Coca‑Cola bottles at Supersam and delicatessen stores in Warsaw. The price is 19 zloty per bottle and the deposit is 8 zloty”, the Życie Warszawy daily reported on 25 May, 1976. The new beverage soon became popular in the so-called avant-garde circles. Its rising popularity was also spearheaded by the “Coca‑Cola that's it!” slogan developed by Agnieszka Osiecka in 1982.
It wasn’t until 1991 that Coca Cola made its first direct investment in Poland. The first Coca Cola Poland office was set up in the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw in 1991. At this time, there were only 15 employees.
And no wonder – since the market for carbonated refreshment drinks was underdeveloped at the time. The average annual consumption of Coca Cola beverages amounted to just 0.8litres per head. By 2008 the figure rose to over 25.5 litres per head.
1991 – 1992
The papers were full of reports about massive investments of the US-based corporation Coca‑Cola, perceived as confirmation of the country’s economy becoming a stable one. Six companies operating in various regions of Poland were set up:
- Coca‑Cola Poland Ltd. (Radzymin), with branches in Gdynia and Niepołomice, owned by The Coca‑Cola Company;
- Warszawa Coca‑Cola Bottlers Ltd. (Warszawa), a joint venture of the Norwegian company Ringness and The Coca‑Cola Export Corporation;
- Coca‑Cola West Poland Sp. z o. o. (Środa Śląska), with a branch in Poznań, owned by the German company Coca‑Cola Erfrischungsgetraenke GmbH;
- Bydgoszcz Coca‑Cola Bottlers Ltd. (Bydgoszcz), a joint venture of the Norwegian company Ringness and a local company Pubrex;
- Łódź Coca‑Cola Bottlers Ltd. (Łódź), a joint venture of the Austrian company Brau-Beteiligung AG and the German group Marszalkowski;
- Lublin Coca‑Cola Bottlers (Lublin), owned by the Norwegian company Ringness;
At the same time Coca‑Cola substantially expanded its product range. The production of Fanta and Sprite beverages was launched. Also in 1992, a production line for cans and 2-litre plastic bottles was launched at a newly opened plant in Radzymin.
The assets of the six above mentioned companies, as well as production and distribution rights in Poland were acquired by the Australian company Coca‑Cola Amatil, a key Coca‑Cola bottler. However, all six companies continued to operate as separate legal entities.
In July 1998, Coca‑Cola Amatil was split and Coca‑Cola Beverages was established. The latter became the owner of all six companies in Poland. A month later, six independent companies were consolidated into Coca Cola Beverages Polska sp. z o.o.
As a result of the merger of Coca‑Cola Beverages, Hellenic Bottling Company and Molino, Coca‑Cola Hellenic Bottling Company was formed; the latter automatically became the owner of the consolidated company Coca‑Cola Beverages Polska.
2004 - present day
In October 2004 the Polish company changed name to Coca‑Cola HBC Polska Sp. z o.o. which is, since then, our name.
July 4th 2005 - on this day we sold our 1 billionth case of Coca‑Cola, since the beginning of our operations in Poland.
In 2014 we opened the new automatized warehouse, which was the last part of our 3 year investment plan worth 170 mln zlotys. Mr Janusz Piechocinski, Deputy Prime Minister, and Dimitris Lois, General Manager Coca‑Cola HBC AG, attended the event.
In 2016 we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our activity in Poland. For this occasion, we have prepared a special, limited edition Coca‑Cola's contour bottle, which reflected the colorful and vast Polish spirit.
The history of Coca‑Cola is a true example of the 'American Dream'. The beverage initially sold by a pharmacist in glasses at 5 cents each has become, after 124 years, the most recognised brand worldwide -- found in almost any corner of the globe.