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Cott Corp History

Our history dates back to the 1950s when Harry Pencer’s children were introduced to Cott Black Cherry soda during their summers at Camp Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. In 1952, Harry Pencer began importing Cott sodas into Canada and, three years later, established Cott Beverages Ltd., to bottle beverages in Quebec. Later that decade, Cott became the first company in the world to launch a diet soft drink, developing a formula by request for diabetic patients at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, Quebec.

Our entry into retailer brand beverages occurred in 1984, when Cott secured the business of A&P, Canada’s largest grocery chain at the time. In the early 1990s, we expanded our retailer brand business into the US, with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. as our first customer.

In 1986, Cott became a publicly-traded company with listings on the Toronto and Montreal stock exchanges and six years later, Cott shares began trading in the United States on the NASDAQ exchange.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Cott made a series of acquisitions including Vess Beverages and Concord Beverages (with its well-known Vintage brand) in the US, and moved into the United Kingdom with the purchases of Benjamin Shaw & Sons Ltd. and Hero Drinks Group. Cott later entered Mexico with a joint venture that established manufacturing and marketing capabilities in that country.

We reached an important milestone in 2001, with the purchase of our retailer brand CSD formulations, the RC International business and our concentrate manufacturing and research and development facility from Cadbury Schweppes, making Cott a truly integrated beverage company.

Our rapid growth, both through acquisition and strong organic business growth, led the Company to move Cott's US listing to the New York Stock Exchange in 2002.

In 2005, we completed the acquisition of Macaw Soft Drinks in the UK, the largest acquisition in our history. The addition of Macaw nearly doubled our UK business and gave Cott its first inroad into aseptic, or preservative-free, drink production.

In recent years, Cott has successfully expanded into new and fast-growing beverage segments, including energy drinks and ready-to-drink teas, in both retailer brands and Cott's own value brands such as Orient Emporium Tea Co. The addition of a second aseptic production line in the UK in 2007 provided additional capacity for popular preservative-free juice and juice-based drinks. Expansion into new channels such as gas, convenience and quick-serve restaurants has added new opportunities for growth, and a strategic focus on international and emerging markets is helping to shape Cott's future.

For more than 50 years, Cott has grown and prospered. We've built a strong foundation as one of the world's largest non-alcoholic beverage companies and we continue to partner with our customers to provide exceptional value, innovation and taste experiences to consumers around the world.

Source: [1]

Cott Corp - What Guides Us

At Cott, we believe that success is achieved by maintaining a disciplined focus on just a few critical things.

To realize our vision of being the global leader in value beverages, we continue the refocus on our private label business customers, while concentrating on controlling the 4 C’s:

  1. Customers
  2. Cost
  3. Capex
  4. Cash flow

Cott employees worldwide are united by a single, unifying core value – to think and act as owners. We think and act as if Cott's resources and reputation were our own. This guides our decision-making and our relationships with customers, consumers, suppliers and the communities in which we operate.

Cott Priorities:

  1. Low Cost Producer – always look for opportunities to control the “Four C’s”
  2. Customer Focused – focus on providing exceptional customer service to our internal and external customers
  3. Drive Innovation – drive new ideas, improvements and focus on finding solutions
  4. Win As A Team – Support and work well with others. Take ownership for team results.

By following these principles and guidelines, Cott will continue to build and grow its foundation of a winning, high performance company.

Source: [2]


The company was incorporated under the laws of Canada on July 25, 1955, under the name of Cott Beverages (Canada) Ltd. to continue a business established in 1952 by the late Harry Pencer. The business consisted of the importation from the U.S. of bottled and canned carbonated beverages under the "Cott" label which were sold to retail outlets in Quebec. On May 22, 1969, the company changed its name to Cott Beverages Ltd. On July 3, 1991, the company's name was changed to Cott Corporation.

During 1955, the company acquired Stewart Bottling Company (Limited) which was engaged, since 1868, in the business of bottling carbonated beverages at a Montreal-based plant.

During 1965, the company transferred its bottling operations to its Laval, Que., plant and established canning operations at that facility.

On Feb. 1, 1966, the company amalgamated with Stewart Bottling Company (Limited), a Montreal-based bottler of carbonated beverages.

In 1970, the company began bottling and marketing mineral water under the brand name "Carignan" obtained from a well located on land in Carignan, Que., owned by the company; a second well was drilled in 1982.

During 1976, the company acquired the soft drink production plant and other assets of Mississauga, Ont.-based Private Brand Ltd., to serve clients in the Metropolitan Toronto and southern Ontario markets.

On Nov. 4, 1980, the company was continued under the Canada Business Corporations Act.

On Dec. 11, 1986, the company's common shares were listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and Montreal Exchange under the symbol BCB.

During fiscal 1988, the company acquired the operations of Kik Cola of Quebec and Appia Beverages of Ontario for total cash consideration of $2,501,121.

On Apr. 1, 1989, the company acquired a 51.2% interest in Sun Mountain Beverages Ltd., a Calgary-based bottler of spring water and private label soft drinks, for $50,064.

On May 1, 1989, the company acquired a 92.5% interest in Ontario-based BCB Beverage Distribution Ltd. (subsequently renamed Cott Beverages Inc.), formerly Tricopack Beverages Inc., for $325,170. In May 1990, the company sold BCB's "Pop Shoppe" soft drink distribution operations.

Effective July 26, 1989, the company acquired a 100% interest in Distribution Verchères Inc.

During fiscal 1991, the company increased its ownership in Cott Beverages Inc. (formerly BCB Beverages Distribution Ltd.) to 100% for a cash consideration of $430,000.

On May 1, 1991, the company acquired a 50.01% interest in Atlantic Refreshments Ltd. for $485,000 and a 100% interest in Cott USA Corp. for $1,500.

Effective Jan. 8, 1992, the company acquired a 75% interest in Quebec-based Bessey Juices Inc., a private label juice manufacturer.

On Feb. 6, 1992, the company acquired a 72.5% interest in Retail Brands Corporation (subsequently renamed Retail Brands Inc.) for $600,000 cash and 2,400,000 senior preferred shares of a subsidiary.

Also in February, the company's Ontario and Quebec beverage businesses were transferred to 835966 Ontario Limited, which operated as Cott Beverages Inc.

In March 1992, the company purchased a 70% interest in Lakeport Brewing Corporation, which operated a brewing facility in Hamilton, Ont.

Effective June 2, 1992, the company acquired a 9.25% minority interest in its U.S. subsidiary, Cott Beverages USA, Inc., in exchange for 601,229 common shares of the company valued at $22 per share. Effective Dec. 8, 1992, the company acquired a further 0.5% minority interest in exchange for 117,651 post-split common shares of the company valued at $24 per post-split share.

Also in June, the company purchased a 25% interest in Menu Foods Limited (later increased to 43.75%). Menu Foods manufactured private label canned pet food at its facilities in Mississauga, Ont., and Camden, N.J.

During fiscal 1993, the company acquired the beverage production assets of Curtice Burns Foods in Oakfield, N.Y. (subsequently renamed Cott Distributors USA, Inc.), and a 60% interest in Murphy's Potato Chips Inc., a Kitchener, Ont.-based supplier of snack foods.

On May 31, 1993, the company acquired the remaining 27.5% interest in subsidiary Retail Brands Inc. and certain other minority interests in affiliates of Retail Brands in exchange for the issuance of 447,336 common shares at $22.50 per share. Also on May 31, 1993, Retail Brands redeemed $2,400,000 of its senior preferred shares.

Effective Nov. 1, 1993, the company exercised an option and purchased an additional 15% interest in subsidiary Lakeport Brewing Corporation for $1,000,000 cash, raising its interest in Lakeport to 85%.

On Jan. 31, 1994, wholly owned U.K. subsidiary Cott (UK) Limited acquired a 51% interest in Benjamin Shaw (Pontefract) Ltd., a new company formed to acquire the canning operation of Benjamin Shaw & Sons Limited, a subsidiary of Rutland Trust plc. The operations acquired included the U.K.'s largest independent canning plant. Initial consideration totaled £6,000,000 (Cdn$11,900,000). On June 1, 1995, the company acquired the 49% minority interest of Cott (UK) Limited for £5,000,000 (Cdn$10,843,000).

On May 31, 1994, the company purchased through a U.S. subsidiary, the assets of Vess Beverages, Inc. and Vess Specialty Packaging Company for US$41,577,000 (Cdn$58,304,000) payable as to a combination of cash, assumption of existing bank debt and the issuance of a subordinated note. Vess Beverages operated a bottling and canning plant in St. Louis, Mo. Vess Specialty commenced operations in 1994, with a bottling facility in Sikeston, Mo.

In October 1994, the company and Virgin Trading Co., a subsidiary of Virgin Retail Group of London, England, formed Virgin Cola Co., a joint venture company to produce, market and distribute non-alcoholic beverages, and potentially other food products, under the Virgin brand name to select retailers in a number of markets around the world.

On July 24, 1995, the company acquired an additional 19.99% interest in Atlantic Refreshments Ltd. thereby increasing its interest therein to 70%. Consideration consisted of 303,500 Cott common shares valued at $14.82 per share.

Effective July 28, 1995, the company acquired a 68% interest in Telemark Springwater AS, a springwater bottling facility in Norway, for $282,000.

On Oct. 3, 1995, the company purchased the remaining minority interest in The Watt Design Group Inc. for $377,000.

On Dec. 1, 1995, the company's unit in the United Kingdom, Cott Retail Brands Ltd. acquired Crystal Drinks Ltd., an operator of a PET plastic bottle filling plant in Yorkshire, U.K. Consideration totaled £3,085,000 (Cdn$6,386,000).

In May 1996, the company sold subsidiary Murphy's Potato Chips Inc. to Small Fry Snack Foods Inc. of Cambridge, Ont. Included in the sale were the "Murphy's" and "Jack's" brand names, a plant in Kitchener, Ont., and all sales and distribution routes.

Effective Aug. 1, 1996, Cott purchased the soft drink operating assets of Opal Beverages (Pty) Ltd. of Melbourne, Australia. Consideration consisted of the assumption of $412,000 in debt and a 49.999% interest in Cott's Australian operation.

On Nov. 14, 1996, the company divested its 89.99% interest in Hamilton, Ont.-based Lakeport Brewing Corporation, which manufactured and sold private label, franchised and branded alcoholized beer in Ontario and de-alcoholized beer in Ontario and Quebec. An after-tax gain of $4,566,000 was recorded on the sale.

On Nov. 18, 1996, the company purchased the carbonated soft drink and private label spring water operating assets of Brio Beverages Inc. for $19,494,000 in cash.

Effective Jan. 1, 1997, the company purchased the rights to Premium Beverage Packers Inc.'s private label carbonated soft drink business and inventories for US$5,001,000 (Cdn$6,766,000).

On Nov. 21, 1997, the company's subsidiary in the United Kingdom acquired Hero Drinks Group (UK) Limited from Hero AG. Hero Drinks Group was the United Kingdom's largest supplier of retailer brand carbonated soft drinks in the PET bottle format. Consideration totaled £47,000,000, plus a deferred payment of up to £20,500,000, depending upon the future profitability of the acquired operation.

Also during 1997, the company acquired the remaining minority interests in Cott Norway AS, Cott Beverages West Ltd. and Atlantic Refreshments Ltd.

In January 1998, the company sold its interest in U.K.-based The Virgin Cola Company to Virgin Trading Company. Cott continued as a co-packer for Virgin Cola.

In July 1998, a group of companies connected to Thomas H. Lee Company, a private U.S. equity firm, made a significant minority investment in the company by acquiring US$110,000,000 (Cdn$160,000,000) in securities of Cott in transactions with the company and with the Pencer family. The securities were issued to Thomas H. Lee Equity Fund IV, L.P., Thomas H. Lee Foreign Fund IV, L.P., THL CoInvestor III-A, LLC, THL CoInvestor III-B, LLC, Thomas H. Lee Charitable Investment Limited Partnership and Paine Webber Capital and PW Partners, 1997 L.P. (collectively, the "Purchasers"). For an investment of US$70,000,000, the Purchasers acquired from the Pencer family, 10,000,000 Cott common shares as well as an option to buy an additional 5,000,000 Cott common shares for four years at an exercise price of US$9.00. The Purchasers also acquired 4,000,000 convertible participating voting second preferred shares series I of the company by way of a private placement for US$40,000,000.

In September 1998, the company disposed of its bottling operations in Norway. The sale of 68%-owned Telemark Springwater AS was part of the company's plan to increase its focus on core markets in North America and the U.K.

During the 1998 third quarter, the company changed its reporting currency to U.S. dollars from Canadian dollars.

In January 1999, the company amalgamated with Atlantic Refreshments Ltd. of Scoudouc, N.B., Cott Beverages Inc. of Toronto, Ont., Cott Beverages West Ltd. of Calgary, Alta., Bessey Juices Inc. of Lachine, Que., and 3566170 Canada Limited.

In May 1999, the Featherstone, West Yorkshire plant and related business in the United Kingdom and wholly owned BCB Beverages Australia Pty. Ltd. of Victoria, Australia, were sold.

Also in May, wholly owned Destination Products International, Inc. (DPI) was sold to a management buy-out team. DPI developed and distributed retailer branded frozen foods to large grocery chains in the United States.

In June 1999, 50%-owned The Watt Design Group Inc. was sold to Envoy Communications Group Inc. and to Don Watt, a director of Cott and chairman of The Watt Design Group.

In October 1999, the company sold its 38.25% interest in Menu Foods Limited.

On Dec. 3, 1999, the company's shares were delisted from the Montreal Exchange.

In April 2000, the company sold its polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle manufacturing operations in the United States to Schmalbach-Lubeca Plastic Containers USA Inc. Assets sold included a North Carolina injection moulding facility together with blow-moulding assets at various sites in the United States.

In October 2000, the company sold its PET preform manufacturing assets in the United Kingdom for US$2,700,000 cash at closing and US$4,400,000 payable over the next two years.

In November 2000, the company acquired the Honickman Group's Concord Beverage bottling operation, consisting of the retailer brand business of Concord Beverage, including its Concordville, Pa., bottling plant, and the "Vintage" brand of seltzer products. Consideration was US$73,400,000.

On July 13, 2001, the company acquired its retailer brand concentrate supply from the Royal Crown unit of Cadbury Schweppes plc. The purchase price of US$95,500,000 included formulas, proprietary technology, a concentrate manufacturing facility in Columbus, Ga., and the RC international business, comprising all RC branded business outside Canada, the United States, Mexico and certain U.S. territories.

Effective Sept. 25, 2001, the company formed a new business venture with Polar Corp., a private label beverage supplier based in Worcester, Mass. The company invested US$29,500,000 in the new venture, Northeast Retailer Brands LLC, for a 51% interest therein.

In February 2002, the company formed an alliance with J.D. Iroquois Enterprises Ltd. to buy a spring water bottling plant and bottle blowing assets in Revelstoke, B.C. The company acquired 49% interest in the new business which gave it exclusive supply rights over the private label spring water business.

Also in February, the company formed an alliance with Iroquois Water Ltd., a company of the First Nations of America based in Cornwall Island, Ont., and would participate as a minority owner.

In June 2002, the company acquired Premium Beverage Packers, Inc., the largest carbonated soft drinks co-packer in the United States, with bottling facilities in Wyomissing, Pa.

Also in June, the company formed a joint venture with Embotelladora de Puebla, S.A. de C.V., a beverage bottler in Mexico. The company acquired 90% interest in Cott Embotelladores de Mexico, S.A. de C.V., which was formed to manufacture retailer brand soft drinks for several grocery retailers in Mexico including Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

On July 30, 2002, the company's shares were listed on NASDAQ under the symbol COT.

Effective May 15, 2003, subsidiary Cott Embotelladores de Mexico S.A., de C.V. acquired a soft drink distribution business from Embotelladora de Puebla, S.A. de C.V. for an undisclosed amount.

In December 2003, the company acquired the retailer brand beverage business of North Carolina-based Quality Beverage Brands, LLC. In addition, the company signed a long-term manufacturing agreement with Quality Beverage affiliate company, bottler Independent Beverage Corporation.

In March 2004, the company acquired certain assets of The Cardinal Companies of Elizabethtown, LLC, including a bottling facility in Elizabethtown, Ky., for US$17,700,000.

Effective Oct. 19, 2004, the company acquired certain assets of Metro Beverage Co., of Columbus, Ohio, for US$16,800,000.

During 2004, the company purchased the plant and equipment of Elan Waters in Blairsville, Ga., for US$3,800,000.

In February 2006, the company closed its juice plant in Lachine, Que., and in March 2006, closed the soft drink plant and warehouse in Columbus, Ohio. These closures were part of a plan announced in September 2005, to realign management of Canadian and U.S. operations, to a North American basis, rationalize product offerings, eliminate underperforming assets and increase focus on high potential accounts.

In July 2006, the company completed the transition of its North American transportation management to Transplace, Inc., a logistics technology and transportation management services provider. Transplace will optimize carrier assignments, reduce empty miles and improve service to customers.


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