WESTMINSTER — The Westminster Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Inc. could close this spring if a sale to a Coke affiliate goes through as planned.
The owners of Westminster Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Inc. at 525 Old Westminster Pike are negotiating with Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., but the sale is not final, the Westminster executive vice president said.
The owners signed a letter of intent to sell the company, but details have to be worked out, said Frank H. Libman, who runs theplant with his brother-in-law.
The plant employs 58 people, 55 of whom work full-time, Libman said. Employees were told of the pending sale ata meeting March 1, he said.
"We told our people early to give them a chance to make decisions" about their lives, he said.
April 30is the date set for the final sale, he said. He would not reveal theprice.
John H. Downs Jr., vice president of public affairs for Coca-Cola Enterprises in Atlanta, said no decision has been made about whether the Westminster plant would close.
Libman said he doesn't expect Coca-Cola to continue bottling here, but the company may continue selling soda from the site. Company representatives visited the plant last week to examine the operation.
The Westminster plant is a Coke franchise and sells Coke products in Carroll County and upper Baltimore County. The franchise has about 3,000 accounts, and last year sold about 1 million cases of soda, he said.
Coca-Cola Enterprises is separate from The Coca-Cola Co. and is the world's largest bottler of Coke, Downs said. The company wants to buy the Westminster franchise because the company controls sales in the Baltimore area, andthis purchase would expand its territory, he said.
"It would be a good fit for us," he said.
The Coca-Cola Co. owns 49 percent of the stock in Coca-Cola Enterprises, he said.
The main function of the Westminster operation is selling and delivering Coke products. Only about 35 percent of what the plant sold last year was bottled here, said Libman, who has a collection of old and new Coke bottles on shelves behind his office desk.
The plant bottles 6 1/2- and 16-ounce returnable bottles of Coke and 16-ounce non-returnable bottles, he said. It buys the cans and two-liter bottles it sells.
Libman's father-in-law, W. G. Meredith, bought the Westminster franchise in 1920. The current president, Allan W. Roadcap, is also married to one of Meredith's daughters.
The sale of the two Coke buildings with about 40,000 square feet of space and 15 acres of land at the site are being negotiated separately, Libman said.
He said he and Roadcap areboth of retirement age and will no longer work for Coca-Cola if the sale goes through.