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The CEO of Highland Spring has told just-drinks that the bottled water firm wants to challenge Danone's dominance in the UK impulse channel.

Les Montgomery said the gap was closing between Highland Spring and Evian water producer Danone in the UK.

“Our combined business is now the biggest supplier of bottled water in the UK," Montgomery told just-drinks in an interview today (11 June).

"As a group, Highland Spring, with all of our brands and private label, are now the biggest supplier in the UK,” Montgomery said.

“At the end of 2009, Evian were 0.2% ahead of us in terms of market share but that has been declining over the past five years, it’s been getting smaller and smaller each year.

"So what we’re doing, we’re a bigger organisation, we’ve got different structures in place to target different parts of the market that we’re not particular strong in, so we’ve been expanding our sales team, expanding our marketing team, and making them focus on areas that in the past have been a weak area for our business, so it’s areas like impulse,” he said. 

Highland Spring aims to become a GBP100m (US$145m) and 500m-litre turnover business by 2013.

Mintel analyst Jonny Forsyth believes the UK market conditions are working in Highland Spring’s favour.

“What we’re finding is that Danone are really struggling and it’s mainly because they are shipping their water from mainland Europe and people have suddenly become more aware of the environmental issues," he told just-drinks.

However, he questioned Highland Spring's ability to make significant gains on Danone's market share.

"Danone are a massive company and it will be difficult to increase Highland Spring’s share hugely," he said. "Danone are planning on a big marketing push this year and they’ve also put in a lot of policies to show their green credential.

"So I’ve no doubt that Danone will fight back, but I think Highland Spring will make some incremental gains in terms of share and I think it would be difficult for them not to as the market is so much in their favour at the moment.”


Sectors: Soft drinks, Water

Companies: Groupe Danone, Evian

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