COCA-COLA INVESTING $35 MILLION TO REVAMP FRENCH BOTTLING PLANT

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Coca-Cola Co.'s top French bottler, Coca-Cola Entreprise, plans to invest 200 million French francs ($34.8 million) to revamp and expand one of its bottling plants.

The three-year project involves the complete renovation and expansion of its 30-year-old operation at Clamart, France, and includes installation of $6 million in PET bottle blow molding equipment to run in line with drink filling operations.

The plan still is subject to consent from the local authorities. However, the company is scheduled to start the project late this summer, according to a Coca-Cola France spokesman in Paris.

At present, the bottling plant chiefly uses refillable glass bottles for a range of the firm's soft drinks, including Coke, Coca-Cola Light and Fanta orange.

The facility also produces one-half-liter PET bottles of its beverages, including Coca-Cola Light and Sprite.

Clamart now handles 100 million bottles a year; less than half are plastic containers, according to Coca-Cola France.

The company would not give more details about the new plastic molding plant except to say that it will be a much bigger operation than the present unit.

The Clamart plant will continue to produce one-half-liter PET bottles.

The expansion is being prompted by increasing demand for Coca-Cola products in France, the company said. Coca-Cola France said it saw sales growth of 6 percent last year.

Of the $34.78 million total investment planned for Clamart, $17.4 million is slated for renovating the existing bottling unit. The remainder will pay for warehouse space.