Today Highland Spring, Scotland's No1 natural mineral water and Britain's biggest brand producer*, acquired its Blackford neighbour, The Gleneagles Spring Water Company from Time Group Ltd, Lancashire for an undisclosed sum.

Best known for its stylish glass bottle, Gleneagles, a natural mineral water sourced from the Perthshire Gleneagles Estate, had a £1.3 million turnover to July 2000. Highland Spring is forecasting a 27% uplift in turnover to £35 million for 2001, prior to the takeover.

With 11 additional staff Highland Spring's total workforce increases to over 190 and its management team has taken over day-to-day responsibility of running the Gleneagles operation with immediate effect.

The acquisition underlines the company's commitment to grow its market position and capitalise on the projected doubling in volume of bottled water consumption in the next 10 years. The UK market grew by 15% last year to 1.3 billion litres with retail sales worth £550m (Zenith International) and Highland Spring outperformed this by a further 2%.

Highland Spring has invested some £40 million in development and brand innovation since its formation in 1979. Boasting one of Europe's most modern and efficient bottling plants, the addition of Gleneagles will provide an excellent small bottling facility to exploit niche sectors of the market and enable new product development.

Joe Beeston, chief executive, Highland Spring commented, "The two new production lines now at our disposal through the purchase of Gleneagles will provide increased opportunities to expand our product portfolio for both the UK and export markets. With overseas sales growth forecast at 23% this year it is essential that we can use our production facilities to maximise the potential in individual markets.

"Bottled water has become a lifestyle necessity and through our significant investment in production and innovative product designs over our 21 year history, Highland Spring has continued to lead the market. The Gleneagles acquisition is a further indication of our commitment to enhancing our market profile and share."