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          Cola-war: peace in France, not yet in Belgium

          Stock picture: Coca-Cola bottles

          The delisting conflict between Agecore and Coca-Cola is over in France (its products are back in Intermarché stores after what the chain calls a "balanced agreement"), but continues at Belgian Colruyt.


          International conflict

          French Intermarché says a "balanced agreement" was reached on Wednesday: the retailer told French website LSA that Coca-Cola now respects its ambitions to reduce the number of unhealthy soft drinks in its stores, aiming to create more space for a healthier range. Coca-Cola has not yet issued an official statement.?


          The conflict started when earlier this year, Intermarché claimed the drinks producer abused its dominant position and demanded all its less-healthy products to remain in the shelves as well. That made Coca-Cola stop supplying the supermarket chain, until a judge decided deliveries had to resume while both parties had sixty days to sort matters out. The war escalated beyond the borders as international members of Agecore, the purchasing alliance of which Intermarché is an important part, joined in the boycott - including Colruyt in Belgium and Edeka in Germany.


          This French agreement does not mean an automatic end to hostilities in other countries as well: Colruyt told RetailDetail this morning that "negotiations with the drinks producer are still ongoing". In fact, the retailer never officially confirmed that the Belgian delisting came into being because of the problems in France. Moreover, the Belgian chain does not really play hardball, keeping the majority of Coca-Cola's range on its shelves anyhow. Contrary to earlier skirmishes with the likes of Mars and Nestlé, there has been no sign of conspicuously empty shelves with the note "temporarily unavailable"...