Coca-Cola has completed the refranchising of company-owned bottling operations in North America following a deal for the company’s Canadian bottling and distribution business, Coca-Cola Refreshments Canada (CCRC).

A joint venture by local businessman Larry Tanenbaum and former NBA player and current chief executive of Heartland Coca-Cola Bottling Company Junior Bridgeman are expected to have control by the end of the year.

CCRC employs approximately 5,800 associates and operates five production facilities and over 50 sales and distribution centres.

“Coca-Cola has been refreshing Canadians for more than 120 years and it was important for us to find the right partners that understand our business and the Canadian market,” said Jim Dinkins, president of Coca-Cola North America.

“Junior Bridgeman was a proud customer of The Coca-Cola Company for more than 30 years before investing in our system as a bottler, demonstrating his passion for our business and our brands. When you combine that with Larry Tanenbaum’s successful track record and deep Canadian roots, this is the perfect partnership to continue to build our business in Canada with a highly local approach.”

Tanenbaum added: “As a lifelong fan of Coca-Cola, I am delighted to be joining the Coca-Cola system. I have seen the company evolve over the years and know there is tremendous growth potential for The Coca-Cola Company’s broad range of brands in the Canadian market. There is already a strong foundation and I look forward to working alongside Junior to continue to build the business through great brands, strong local execution and exceptional customer service.”