Highland Spring closes in on Evian’s No 1 sales crown

RECORD sales at Highland Spring mean the firm is now poised to overtake rival Evian as the best-selling brand in the UK.

Increased demand through “meal deals” in retail outlets and the launch of a new value brand, Hydr8, helped turnover at the Perthshire-based company rise by 15 per cent to £79.8 million last year from £69.3m in 2010.

Operating profits rose by just under £1m to £5.6m, mainly due to the release of a prior year’s VAT provision.

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The group sold just over 374 million litres of bottled water in 2011, capturing more than 20 per cent of the UK market.

Chief executive Les Montgomery said the company’s sights were “firmly set on reaching the leading brand position in the UK market for Highland Spring”, a target he said will be achieved “imminently”.

“We expect to have tripped the 200 million litres threshold for the brand within the next few weeks, an increase of 17 million litres on 2011,” said Montgomery.

He added that 2012 was “shaping up well”.

“We are confident of reporting increases in sales turnover and underlying profitability as the year draws to a close.”

As well as building its core Highland Spring brand, the company has been focusing on developing its own-label business.

It has also invested in its flavoured water products, expanding a bottling plant in the Brecon Beacons in Wales to meet growing demand. Output from the Welsh plant has increased from three million litres in 2010 to 23 million litres in 2012.

Highland Spring is the number two still water brand after Evian but number one in the sparkling sector.

The packaged bottled water category grew 6 per cent by value in 2011 to £1.5 billion and by 3.1 per cent by volume to 1.8 billion litres.