Nestlé Waters plans to invest EUR18m (US$24m) this year at its mineral water bottling plants at Vittel and Contrexéville in eastern France.

The investment will help modernise production lines and logistics operations in order to improve competitiveness at the plants, which produce Vittel, Contrex and Hépar brands, said the firm.

It is part of Nestlé's plan designed to combat a 30% fall in sales volumes at the plants  in recent years, due largely to strong competition from tap water.

Nestlé Waters said that it will also invest significantly in promoting the Vittel, Contrex and Hépar brands this year, including TV ad campaigns.

In 2008, Nestlé invested EUR34m at the plants. It also announced a plan to cut 250 jobs from a total workforce of around 1,600 by the end of 2009.