How we’re investing to grow and transform our business through CCEP Ventures

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We continue to invest across our business to ensure we can grow sustainably. CCEP Ventures, our multimillion-euro investment fund, is an important part of this journey – helping to find innovative solutions and opportunities for our business, and potentially transform the soft drinks industry.

We caught up with co-founders of CCEP Ventures – Graham Stokhuyzen and Craig Twyford – to find out more.

What is CCEP Ventures?

Graham: Through CCEP Ventures we want to bring great ideas, great technology and great start ups into our business from the outside world, to help solve problems and challenges. It’s fundamentally about finding game changing solutions that can help grow our business.

Craig: We look for the very best entrepreneurs, the best innovators, the best start-ups and help them achieve their ambition. That might be something simple like a commercial relationship with us, access to our sites to run a pilot or to our network. But sometimes they’re looking for capital that will help them to grow. We then consider making an investment and taking a stake in the business.

Why is it important to seek out innovation rather than wait for it to come to market?

Craig: It’s a question of whether we want to be leaders or followers. The Coca-Cola system has a rich heritage of innovation and, in many ways, CCEP Ventures is just a natural extension of that innovation history.

CCEP Ventures was created to make sure that we stay at the cutting edge of technological developments as they occur in the marketplace so that we can understand it, shape it and take full advantage of it.

What areas of innovation are we focusing on, and why?

Graham: We are a customer management business. That is our day-to-day purpose as a bottler, so there’s almost always a customer lens to the investments that we make. But we have four areas of focus that are fundamental to our business:   

  1. Sustainability development – how can we sell more beverages with less waste?
  2. Customer Experience – how can we help our customers buy and sell our products?
  3. Route to market – how can we get our products physically into stores?
  4. Sales visibility – how can we track our products, know what’s been sold and where?

Following COVID-19, there are two priorities that we’ve doubled down on. One is sustainability and ensuring that we can go further, faster towards a greener future. The second is route to market as we’ve seen an enormous surge in home delivery and in B2B e-commerce. These will be our focus for the coming twelve months.

How do we find the best ideas and what to invest in right now?

Craig: We would rather see 1,000 bad ideas if one of those ideas led to some transformational vision for our future – so we’re open to all suggestions and from any avenue.

But the highest volume of ideas come from the venture capital network, which is world-wide – generally, they’re looking for people who might co-invest with them. We also get ideas from scouts who go into the marketplace and find specific opportunities. The best ideas tend to come from within our business. It’s our employees who understand what’s most relevant to us, they understand the pain points and recognise a good idea when they see it.

How much have we invested so far?

Craig: CCEP Ventures is about looking at ways CCEP can help innovation come to market but, occasionally, we do make investments. We’ve made seven investments since 2019 having looked at well over 1,000 different businesses and we’ve invested around €20 million.

Can you tell us a bit more about the seven investments?

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Craig: Our very first investment was Kol, a direct to consumer delivery business in France. This has performed well during the pandemic due to the demand for home deliveries. It is a great example of how venturing adds value to a business: we spotted an underlying trend and invested early – which has then helped us understand that industry, learn from it and, most importantly, shape our strategy and response to that emerging trend.

TeleRetail is a German based autonomous vehicle business. Its autonomous driving technique is undisputedly the best in the world. At some point in the future, we imagine a world where Coca-Cola is delivered to our customers, and to our doors, using autonomous vehicles.  

Then we invested in Foodl which is a B2B e-commerce wholesale platform for SMEs. We are working with them to provide an enhanced digital customer experience for hospitality channel customers in the Netherlands.

Ventures for site 1

Graham: StarStock in the UK is also a type of business to business platform. It brings a very simple and effective user experience to the pub trade by providing access to products and services direct from brand owners like CCEP and does so through a marketplace offering. It’s a great example of how we can develop our route to market in partnership with new technology.

We also invested in CuRe – a highly innovative approach to feedstock recycling, which will help to recycle difficult to process plastic polyester waste. In the future, it could give us access to vital recycled PET (rPET) volumes that will help to accelerate delivery of our 100% rPET ambition for our plastic bottles.

More recently, we invested in Innovative Tap Solutions, which is a self-pour, self-pay technology for dispensed beverages, and Lavit which is a leading maker of multi-beverage, counter-top dispensing machines. Both are opportunities for us to explore and test new dispensed delivery solutions as a key strategic route towards eliminating packaging waste.

Can you give a few examples of how we work with the different partners?

Graham: We’re working with our partners in different ways to help them scale their businesses. For a very early-stage technology – CuRe, for example, it is about capital funding to make sure that the infrastructure is being built to develop the new technology and making sure we’ve got the right progress milestones in place.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have Innovative Tap Solutions which has already launched in the USA. Our role is to bring their solutions to Europe and facilitate their business development in our markets. We have a fantastic network of retail partners and relationships and, through that network, we can help them find new customers, develop their business and get pilots up and running.

Do you have a five-year plan for CCEP Ventures?

Graham: Our anchor point is the competitive advantage our business has in five years that came through CCEP Ventures. That’s our vision. To be able find the technology, find the solution that can really shape the way CCEP operates, and the way we win in the market.

To get there, there are three things we need to get right:

  • A great pipeline and great access to innovation, to people, to start ups, to companies.
  • Be really close to the business – channel the business problems and the business opportunities that can be unlocked through technology.
  • Ability to scale and work together with partners and help bring to life their business ideas and solutions.

For more information on CCEP Ventures, and how to get in touch, please visit our website.