Highland Spring expands

Highland Spring has agreed to buy the bottled water division of Dublin-based Greencore Group plc for £17.5 million.

Highland Spring

The move will see the Highland Spring take over Greencore’s Campsie Springs and Blaen Twyni facilities, which make own label bottled water for supermarkets. Greencore’s entire bottled water workforce of 124 will transfer to Highland Spring.

Completion of the sale is expected to take place on or before 30 April 2010, at which point Highland Spring will become the UK’s largest bottled water supplier.

Les Montgomery Highland Spring chief executive says the acquisition marks “a major milestone” in the company’s history and compliments its expansion strategy “perfectly”.

“The deal will allow us to continue to service the strong customer base that Greencore has built over recent years and develop the distribution of our flagship
brand, Highland Spring.”

The target, adds Montgomery, is to become a £100 million turnover business in the medium term. Turnover in 2009 is anticipated to reach £54 million, with the company predicting it will end the year with its highest ever brand share of total bottled water (8.8%).

That is unlikely to be enough to topple Danone’s Evian from top spot. This summer, Highland Spring launched the latest – and biggest – campaign in its bid to overthrow Evian.

Bottled water sales have suffered in recent years, with volume sales falling 11% between 2006 and 2008. However, in 2009 the decline slowed to only 1% with the British drinking 2.3 billion litres of bottled water and the market worth £1.9 billion.

Greencore chief executive Di Walker said the sale was an “excellent outcome” for the future of its staff and customers. The company will now continue to re-focus its efforts on its core businesses; the company has a number of house brands as well as producing under license for selected national and international brand owners such as Aunt Bessie’s.

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