Coca-Cola Co on Thursday appointed company veteran Brian Smith as its chief operating officer. Photo: File

INTERNATIONAL – Coca-Cola on Thursday appointed company veteran Brian Smith as its chief operating officer, a role that has been vacant since James Quincey became chief executive officer last year.

Smith, who serves as president of the beverage company’s Europe, Middle East and Africa group, begins his new role from January.

Smith has been with the company since 1997. Prior to his current role, he served as president of both the Brazil and Mexico divisions before he was named group president for Latin America. He has served as group president of EMEA since 2016.

Coca-Cola also said chief financial officer Kathy Waller would retire by the end of the year and be replaced by John Murphy, the president of Coke’s Asia Pacific unit.

Coke shares were recently down slightly in trading Thursday. The stock has fallen about 1 percent over the past year.

In addition, to these appointments, Coke also tapped Nancy Quan as its chief technical officer, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Quan replaces Ed Hays, who will retire at the end of March. Chief Information Officer Barry Simpson's duties will be expanded at the start of next year, the company said.

Additional information from CNBC.