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Terence Robinson, naval hero who was NI's 'Mr Coca-Cola'

Published 13/08/2016

Terence Robinson, the 'Mr Coca-Cola' of Northern Ireland, has died after an illness
Terence Robinson, the 'Mr Coca-Cola' of Northern Ireland, has died after an illness

Terence Robinson, the 'Mr Coca-Cola' of Northern Ireland, has died after an illness. He was 98.

After a distinguished career with the Royal Naval Reserve in the Second World War, he returned to Northern Ireland and joined his father in his fledgling Coca-Cola business.

He demonstrated flair and style, as well as a shrewd business sense.

He worked hard and commanded great loyalty from his colleagues, which was mutual.

He nursed and actively promoted the Coca-Cola brand, with greatly enhanced sales, and he became one of the best-known business figures in Northern Ireland.

Arthur Terence Robinson was born in west Belfast in April 1918, and at the age of only six he was sent to board at Stramongate School in the Lake District.

He later attended St George's School in Harpenden.

After school he chose the hotel business, and worked as assistant manager at The George Hotel in Aberdeen for board only, with no pay.

He was later employed as a commis chef in the fashionable Cumberland Hotel in London, where he was known as 'Chopper' because of his morning duty of chopping vegetables for the day.

During the war he served in the North African and Mediterranean campaigns, commanded Motor Torpedo Boat 660, and was awarded a Distinguished Service Order for Gallantry.

Back home again, he built up the family Coca-Cola bottling business at Rumford Street, just off the Shankill Road.

His intimate knowledge of the business was such that the expansion of the company was inevitable.

Terence became MD in 1960, and then executive chairman in 1960, until his retirement in 1989.

By the late Sixties the business, which became known as Coca-Cola Bottlers (Ulster) Ltd, had moved into a former mill at Lambeg, and this was master-minded by Terence.

Later on the business was part of the international empire of the Leventis family, and Terence formed a good personal and business relationship with Andrew David, the chairman of the Athens-listed Hellenic Bottling Company.

David had bought the Irish Coca-Cola franchise from Sir Anthony O'Reilly's Fitzwilton Group.

He will be remembered with affection as an astute, dedicated and charming businessman.

He was also a family man, who had many friends in and out of his business.

Terence was pre-deceased by his first wife Babs, and he is survived by his second wife Phyllis and by his children Bobi, Linda and Tim, and the wider family.

After a family service and interment next Thursday morning at Annahilt Parish Church, there will be a service at Holywood Parish Church at 1.30pm to celebrate his life.

Belfast Telegraph

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