Highland Spring sales boosted by bottled water demand

Bottled water company Highland Spring is hoping to tap into changing consumer tastes after announcing a 47 per cent surge in annual profits.

Les Montgomery, chief executive of Highland Spring, at the firm's Blackford headquarters. Picture: Sandy Young/PA Wire
Les Montgomery, chief executive of Highland Spring, at the firm's Blackford headquarters. Picture: Sandy Young/PA Wire

The Perthshire firm said operating profits for 2015 swelled to £5 million, up from £3.4m the previous year, helped by a continued switch away from sugary soft drinks.

Turnover for the year to 31 December came in at £103m – the second year running in which sales have topped the company’s long-term target of £100m. On a value basis, revenues were up 3 per cent, while volumes rose 5 per cent year-on-year.

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Chief executive Les Montgomery said: “We have great confidence in the strength of the category and our investment plans to drive sustainable growth.

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“The UK bottled water market has grown over 30 per cent since 2012, with growth approaching double digits on an annual basis. In 2015, the market grew by just over 9 per cent, representing the main driver of growth in the total soft drinks category.”

Highland Spring, which also owns the Speyside Glenlivet and Hydr8 brands and now bottles more than 500 million litres of water a year, recently broke ground on a major factory extension to house a new production line at its Blackford site in Perthshire.

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In total, the firm is investing £30m as part of its commitment to double production capacity over the coming 12 months and boost its supply chain infrastructure as the UK’s thirst for bottled water grows.

“We finished 2015 as the market leader and 2016 is forecast to be another year of near double-digit growth,” Montgomery said.

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“By 2020, the plain water market will reach in excess of 4 billion litres. We expect one in four soft drinks consumed in the UK will be bottled water. This is good news for the nation’s health and we will remain focused on investing back into the business to maintain our position as the UK’s leading supplier of natural source waters.

“This will ensure we are perfectly placed to meet demand for bottled water as consumers continue to switch from sugary soft drinks to healthier hydration choices. Longer term, this will be a contributing factor towards making bottled water an even bigger player in the broader 14.8 billion litre UK soft drinks industry.”

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