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Sidcup Coca-Cola factory steps up to Olympics challenge

PUBLISHED: 12:25 13 August 2012

Coca Cola factory in Sidcup

Coca Cola factory in Sidcup

Archant

During the next two minutes a whopping 10,000 cans and bottles of Coca Cola will have rolled off the seven production lines at the drinks giant's factory in Sidcup.

It’s a rate that could bring on a thirst and as the official drinks supplier for the Olympics and Paralympics, workers at the Enterprises plant factory have been working tirelessly to keep up. It means every Coke drunk at an Olympics venue has come from the factory.

Tucked away in Cray Road just off Sidcup Hill, it may be a surprise to find a key site for such a huge multinational corporation.

Operations and distribution manager John Halpin has worked at the plant for 23 years and the Blackfen resident is also its Olympic ambassador.

While he has embraced the Games spirit, he is also facing the pressure of providing drinks for millions of people. He said: “I took on this role because the Olympics are the greatest show on earth and are a pleasure to be a part of.

“It’s a buzz that we’re so local to the Games and that so many people from the area work here but there’s a lot of hard graft.”

The 43-year-old is not the only employee in the distribution department to have a wealth of experience in his locker. The 61 employees in the section have a combined 801 years experience, with many coming from the Bexley area.

Andy Powell, who has worked there for 19 years, has been manning the main distribution warehouse in Dagenham during the Games, an experience he says he has relished. “It’s been great because I love watching the Olympics every time they come around. I got to go to a Coca-Cola conference at the Velodrome last year which was very exciting. It made it all seem very real and was a very impressive arena.

“Unfortunately I haven’t got any tickets myself but this has been a great opportunity.”

In a normal year 40 million drinks cases are produced and 5,000 bottles and cans are churned out every minute across the seven production lines. Games production has increased these numbers by five per cent.

There will be 3,000 coolers and 350 vendors across the Olympic venues. John says: “We hope to engage people at the sites and leave a legacy as a business. It will determine how Sidcup is viewed and shape what people think.”

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