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:
- Sustainability development – how can we sell more beverages with less waste?
- Customer Experience – how can we help our customers buy and sell our products?
- Route to market – how can we get our products physically into stores?
- 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.