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Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Christchurch celebrates its 50-year history

CCEP Christchurch Team May 2023 v3


In May, Coca-Cola Europacific Partners New Zealand (CCEP NZ) acknowledged the decades-long history of Christchurch, which has been in operation for 50 years. Employees celebrated by enjoying a long lunch at the site, which first opened as The Southern Bottling Company on 11th April 1973. They were joined by CCEP NZ’s Managing Director Chris Litchfield, and the Executive Leadership team who were on the road for their annual roadshow to visit and update employees at all sites across the country.

Employees enjoyed a speech from South Island Regional Sales Manager Luke Gainsford, detailing the full history of the site, the achievements of its employees, and the changes in product and technology, broken down decade-by-decade.

Of what he has learnt during his time at CCEP NZ, and of the Christchurch site, Gainsford said, “One of the first lessons I learned at CCEP NZ was from my Regional Sales Manager was to eat the elephant in small chunks, so I’ll do my best to take you through the highlights of each decade in Christchurch, from when it all began in the 70s to the world-class facility that we enjoy today. I’ll try and do it justice.”

During his speech, Gainsford shared details of the origins of the Coca-Cola range and manufacturing in the 1970s, the time of big change and excess in the 1980s, as well as the rapid advances in technology in the 1990s when brick mobile phones, PCs and laptops started replacing pen and paper, both onsite and out in the field. He spoke of the Christchurch site’s change in ownership, its redevelopment and the introduction of a new sales building in the 2000s.

Of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, Gainsford said, “The Christchurch earthquakes impacted the lives of many here, and it was also a pivotal time for the Christchurch site. The leadership, vision, and commitment to Christchurch from the business in the aftermath of the earthquakes was amazing, with $15million put towards building a Coca-Cola bottling plant in the city and will be an enduring memory for all of us involved in the business during that time.”

As well as acknowledgment of the shifts in range, production, manufacturing and technology the site has experienced, the 50-year celebration provided an excellent opportunity to recognise the people. The day honoured some of CCEP NZ Christchurch’s longest-standing employees including Ian Ashton, who retired immediately after the party, following a 42-year tenure. The current longest-standing Christchurch employees, including Ian, Gary Thompson, Tony Watson, Stew Dunn, Nicola Wigney and Paul Phillips, who have a combined tenure of 225 years, were all recognised.

Gainsford concluded his speech with an acknowledgment of Christchurch’s employees, their families and customers, past and present, “Through all of those 50 years, this site’s presence in Christchurch has supported hundreds of families to grow and prosper. It’s been part of fulfilling people’s careers and their journeys in the business. It has ensured we have contributed hugely to the community of Christchurch, and most importantly, its kept generations of Kiwis with our brands in their hands for the last 50 years, and that will no doubt continue for many years yet.”