Business has picked up at Olympic sponsor Coca-Cola ©Getty Images

Business is going a little better at Coca-Cola, the Atlanta-based drinks group that is the Olympic Movement’s oldest sponsor.

New figures for the three months to late September showed that net operating revenues were down nine per cent from a year ago at $8.65 billion (£6.5 billion/€7.2 billion).

This was a distinct improvement on the second quarter, which had registered a corresponding decline of 28 per cent.

Operating income for the latest period fell just eight per cent to $2.3 billion (£1.725 billion/€1.9 billion), although a sharp run-up in interest expense took its toll on pre-tax income, which was down 29 per cent at $2.18 billion (£1.6 billion/€1.8 billion).

James Quincey, chairman and chief executive, said that while "many challenges still lie ahead, our progress in the quarter gives me confidence we are on the right path".

Coca-Cola’s home market in the United States has been particularly hard-hit by coronavirus, with Latin America also much afflicted.

Coca-Cola's deal with the IOC runs through to 2032 ©Getty Images
Coca-Cola's deal with the IOC runs through to 2032 ©Getty Images

In August, the company had served notice it was to cut thousands of jobs, announcing a "voluntary separation programme" to be offered first to some 4,000 employees in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico.

This was part of a restructuring that will reduce operating units from 17 to nine.

Coca-Cola sponsored the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, and has supported every Games since.

It is also a top-tier sponsor of FIFA, football’s global governing body.

Its latest deal with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will see it share ownership of the worldwide beverage category of The Olympic Partner programme with China Mengniu Dairy Company, a Chinese dairy producer.

The agreement extended Coca-Cola’s support for the IOC by a further 12 years until 2032.