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European Coke bottler Coca-Cola HBC (CCH) has appointed a new CEO to succeed Dimitris Lois, who died in October.

Zoran Bogdanovic takes the reins at the company – one of the largest bottlers for Coca-Cola products – with immediate effect, and will also be nominated as an executive director on the board of directors of at the next general meeting of shareholders.

Bogdanovic is currently a region director at the group, responsible for operations in 12 countries, and has been a member of Coca-Cola HBC’s operating committee since 2013.

He joined Coca-Cola HBC in 1996 and has held a number of senior leadership positions, including as general manager of the company’s operations in Croatia, Switzerland and Greece.

“Following a thorough process and benchmarking exercise, the board is delighted to announce Zoran’s appointment as chief executive officer,” chairman Anastassis David said.

“Zoran has a track record of delivering results in diverse markets across our territories. His ability to bring out the best in people and apply innovative thinking to new challenges make him the ideal choice to lead Coca-Cola HBC through its growth era.

“On behalf of the board, I would like to thank Michalis Imellos for his excellent stewardship of our business during the interim period.”

Dimitris Lois died in October, just weeks after Coca-Cola HBC announced he was to take a medical leave of absence to undergo treatment for an unnamed condition.

Morning update

Packaging group DS Smith has boosted first-half revenues by 19% to £2.8bn thanks to strong organic growth and acquisitions.

The business said the performance came despite substantial input cost rises in the period.

DS Smith said organic volumes increased 5.2% in the six months to 31 October, which was ahead of its target, with growth driven by market share gains across all regions.

The acquisition of Interstate Resources, the group’s first fibre-based packaging business in the US, also contributed to the first-half results.

Adjusted operating profits rose 11% to £251m and pre-tax profits were down 1% to £144m, reflecting the margin pressure from higher paper prices in part offset by significant volume growth in the period and two months’ contribution from Interstate.

CEO Miles Roberts said: “We are delighted with our volume growth which has significantly accelerated to over 5%, fuelled by success with e-commerce and pan-European customers.

“Structural shifts, including changes in consumer preferences, the increased relevance of our packaging at point-of-sale, and the rise in e-commerce are all underpinning the growth of packaging. The strong customer demand has driven performance and our operating margin is in line with our expectations, despite the substantial input cost pressures in the period, which we continue to recover as planned.

“Integration of our recently acquired North American business is going very well and we have been delighted by the reaction from both employees and customers. The proposed acquisition in Romania is on track to complete in January 2018. We continue to see exciting opportunities for growth, both in Europe and in North America, and, accordingly, the board remains confident about the outlook for DS Smith.”

Shares in the group leapt 3.5% to 558p as markets opened this morning.

Irn-Bru maker AG Barr (BAG) has announced that Susan Barratt will join the board as an independent non-executive director with effect from 28 January 2018. Barratt is currently CEO of snack manufacturer Natures Way Foods, a role she has held for 10 years.

Following her BA in economics from Reading University, she qualified as a chartered accountant and has spent much of her career in financial roles, including senior finance roles in Whitbread, Laurel Pub Company and Eldridge Pope, where she moved from finance director to CEO.

AG Barr chairman John Nicolson said: “We look forward to welcoming Susan to our board in January 2018. Susan brings a wealth of valuable experience in the UK customer space and will support the continued development of our board capabilities.”

Yesterday in the City

Whitbread (WTB) had one of its best days in 2017 as it was revealed a hedge fund has taken a 3.4% in the Costa Coffee and Premier Inn owner, sparking speculation the group could be broken up. The stock leapt 7.6% to 3,990p on the news.

British American Tobacco (BAT) was one of the biggest of the FTSE 100 fmcg risers yesterday, climbing 3.7% to 5,028p. Fellow tobacco giant Imperial Brands (IMB) also rose 1.7% to 3,086p.

WH Smith (SMWH), Greggs (GRG) and Reckitt Benckiser (RB) were also among the climbers, up 2.3% to 2,161p, 2.1% to 1,343p and 2.1% to 6,551p respectively.

The listed supermarkets all had a good day, with Morrisons (MRW) leading the way, up 1.8% to 222.8p, Sainsbury’s (SBRY) recording an increase of 1.3% to 242.3p and Tesco (TSCO) up 203.4p. Ocado (OCDO) also nudged up 0.4% to 350.4p.

Cranswick (CWK) was one of the heaviest fallers of the big stocks, down 1.3% to 3,055p, along with Coca-Cola HBC, down 0.8% to 2,332p. Greencore (GNC) also slipped by 0.4% to 218.1p.