Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent is stepping down

Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola, will step down as CEO of the company as of May 1, 2017 according to a release from the company.

Kent will be replaced by current COO James Quincey, who has been at Coca-Cola for 20 years, according to the firm.

Kent has served as CEO since 2008 and will say at Coca-Cola as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

"It has been the most wonderful and unique privilege to serve as Chairman and CEO of our great company over the past eight years," said Kent in the release from Coca Cola.

"This transition comes at a time of important evolution for The Coca-Cola Company. Our journey to refocus on our core business model of building strong global brands, enhancing sustainable customer value and leading a strong, dedicated franchise system is well under way."

See the evolution of Coca-Cola through the years:

13 PHOTOS
Coca-Cola through the years, Coke soda
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Coca-Cola through the years, Coke soda
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1950s: Teenaged girl with bottle of Coca-Cola. (Photo by George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)
(GERMANY OUT) *23.03.1912-16.06.1977+Physiker, Raketenforscher, D/USA- Porträt mit Coca-Cola-Flasche- 1963 (Photo by ullstein bild/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
FRANCE - MAY 01: Centenary of Coca-Cola In France In May, 1986. (Photo by Didier CONTANT/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
BOHOL, PHILIPPINES - 1988/01/01: A lemur clings to a coke bottle. . (Photo by Roland Neveu/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Bottles of Coca-Cola, Tab, and Sprite on the shelf of a grocery store in New York City, USA, September 1988. (Photo by Barbara Alper/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 16: Bottles of Coca-Cola are seen on the shelf at Tower Market January 16, 2004 in San Francisco, California. Coca-Cola is being investigated by U.S. regulators over allegations raised by a former employee that it had inflated its earnings. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO - JANUARY 16: Cans of Coca-Cola are seen on the shelf at Tower Market January 16, 2004 in San Francisco, California. Coca-Cola is being investigated by U.S. regulators over allegations raised by a former employee that it had inflated its earnings. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 20: Bottles of Coca-Cola and Diet Coke are displayed on a shelf in an Associated Supermarket in New York Thursday, October 20, 2005. Coca-Cola Co. said third-quarter profit surged 37 percent, the biggest gain in more than a year, as sales rebounded in the U.S. and demand for Powerade sports (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
PARK RIDGE, IL - NOVEMBER 07: 2-Liter bottles of Vanilla Coke as seen in a grocery store November 7, 2005 in Park Ridge, Illinois. Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. has said it plans to discontinue its Vanilla Coke in the US by the end of the year. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 19: A general view of the new aluminum Coca-Cola bottle at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Fall 2009 Collections at Bryant Park on February 19, 2009 in New York City (Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images for The Coca Cola Company)
Bottles of Coca-Cola Co.'s Coke brand soda sit on a shelf behind the bar at Smith & Wollensky in New York, U.S., on Monday, Feb. 22, 2010. Coca-Cola Co., the world's biggest soda maker, agreed to buy the North American operations of bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., more than six months after PepsiCo Inc. moved to bring its bottlers in-house to cut costs. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 19: Rita Ora attends photocall to celebrates 100 years of the Coca-Cola Contour Bottle at the Coca-Cola Contour Centenary Bar on March 19, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
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The shift comes as Coca-Cola and other soda manufacturers face pressures from health-focused consumers. Soda sales, the backbone for the company, have been sliding in recent years falling 1.2% in 2015 and 0.9% in 2014. Additionally the threat of sugar and soda taxes in cities such as San Francisco have popped up in recent years.

Due to this decline, Coca-Cola is attempting to find new ways to grow the company including new recipes and smaller containers.

Warren Buffett, who has long owned a large stake in Coca-Cola was also supportive of the move.

"As Chairman and CEO, Muhtar has been an excellent steward of Coca-Cola's business over the last eight years and I am thankful for the leadership he has provided to put in place the right vision, strategy and thoughtful succession plan for long-term success," said Buffett in the press release. "I know James and like him, and believe the company has made a smart investment in its future with his selection."

Following the news, Coca-Cola stock is up just over 1% in pre-market trading.

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