COCA-COLA Philippines has appointed its new country president Antonio “Tony” V. Del Rosario, Jr. to head the local unit of the global beverage brand starting January.

Also serving as the Vice-President of Franchise Operations for Coca-Cola East Region representing the Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia, Mr. Del Rosario will be the first Filipino to lead Philippine operations in almost three decades.

Mr. Del Rosario has been working in the Coca-Cola system locally and internationally for 20 years, the company said in a press release on Thursday. He will be in charge of strategic business objectives in partnership with the firm’s Bottling Investment Group.

“His main focus is to further cement Coca-Cola Philippines’ strong foothold, not only in the country, but across ASEAN as well — driving further growth through consumer-centric brands,” Coca-Cola said.

Mr. Del Rosario started his career in Coca-Cola as region manager for North and South Luzon before being appointed national operations director. He then moved to Indonesia to become the sales and marketing director of Coca-Cola and Nestlé joint venture Ades Waters, then became Coca-Cola Amatil Indonesia commercial director.

He has taken on general manager positions in Coca-Cola across Southeast Asian markets since 2008.

“I am grateful to have been given the chance to learn and understand the diverse cultures of different Coca-Cola markets. But the biggest honor is to go back to my home country after 20 years and serve my fellow Filipinos, especially during this time,” Mr. Del Rosario said.

The Philippine-based company bottles and distributes Coca-Cola products such as soft drinks, water, and juices in the country.

Coca-Cola Philippines in July said it was investing P1.1 billion more in its local operations for 2020 as it adds new production lines in Luzon and Mindanao. This includes investments in Misamis Oriental, Zamboanga, and Santa Cruz, outside Davao.

This puts its total investment for the year at P4.74 billion.

The company in August said that it experienced its worst sales months in the Philippines during the stricter lockdown in March and April after it lost demand from restaurant and convenience store clients. While there has been some sales improvement, Coca-Cola Philippines expects 2021 to remain a “tough year.” — Jenina P. Ibañez