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ATLANTA -- Coca-Cola Co. here said it has reached an agreement under which several of its smaller bottlers have agreed to drop a suit against the company and two of its largest bottlers over their plan to distribute Powerade to Wal-Mart stores directly through the retailer's warehouses.
Coca-Cola said yesterday it will work with the bottlers "to develop and test new customer service and distribution systems to supplement their powerful direct store delivery."
Last year, several bottlers that represent about 10 percent of Coca-Cola's U.S. volume sued to try to block a new delivery system that its largest bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., wanted to test for Powerade. The lawsuits were pending in U.S. District Court in Atlanta, and Circuit Court of Jefferson County in Birmingham, Ala.
The new system came about after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. approached Coca-Cola and its bottlers saying it wanted to increase availability of Powerade in its stores by delivering the product to its stores through its own warehouses rather than through the bottler system.
Although the test of the proposal was only being conducted in CCE's territory, some other bottlers objected, Coke said.