Nestle Waters France is to halt production of its youth-oriented Perrier Fluo range in the wake of weak sales and replace it with a more sober sparkling water range called Perrier Mix.

Perrier declined to give details of the new product, but employees at its main bottling plant at Vergeze in southern France were told of the plans last week. Union officials, who have been in near-constant conflict with management for the past five years, said the company aimed to increase production at the facility to 1bn units a year compared to the present 800,000.

The new product range, to be sold in super and hypermarkets in 1.25-litre plastic bottles, will be "less flashy" than the Fluo range, which was sold in vividly coloured bottles and flavours. The new, slightly-sweetened water will come in grapefruit, orange & lychee, cassis & soft fruits and coconut & lime flavours, at a suggested retail price of EUR1.46 per bottle.  It will be launched next month and a major advertising campaign is planned.

The union officials told just-drinks yesterday (25 March) that a new staff agreement would be put in place for the 1,170 staff. Some 150 employees will take early retirement and one new employee will be taken on for every six departures.