Font Size

- Aa +

Sun 1 Jul 2007 12:00 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

Fizzy heights

Distributing more than 15mn bottles of Perrier in ME each year, the brand continues to flourish after 75 years in the market.

Bought out by Nestle Waters in 1992, Perrier still holds to its roots in providing a premium sparkling water brand. Yet Perrier, which has been in operation since 1863 is not sitting on its laurels, with mass marketing drives held worldwide in order to promote the sparkling water, Perrier produces one billion bottles of water each year.

Available in more than 140 countries, Perrier water is sourced from a spring in Vergèze, Southwest France, with the gas representing three and a half times the volume of the water, accounting for the drink's strong effervescence.

Producing the water from its plant in Vergèze, which employs more than 200 staff, the company first entered the Middle East market 75 years ago in Lebanon, before launching the brand in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Now distributed across the GCC, wider Gulf region and Levant, Perrier holds a market share of around 65% of the premium sparkling water market in the region.

"Last year we distributed 15 million bottles of water across the Middle East. Looking at the different countries the UAE has the fastest growing economy, so this is reflected in our business. For example, the UAE grew by 20% in 2006 compared with 2005, so we had sales of around 2.75 million bottles in the Emirates alone last year," comments Djamel Touaibi, market development manager, Nestle Waters, Middle East.

Other key markets for Perrier are Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, especially with new cities, shopping malls and restaurants coming on line in the coming years. But the company is also keeping an eye on growing markets, Qatar in particular.

Aggressively targeting the hotel, restaurant and café (HORECA) business, Touaibi says the potential in Qatar is phenomenal, due to the number of hotels and independent restaurants entering the area. Oman is another key market they are looking at for future growth.

"We are expecting to double our business over the next five years in countries like Kuwait and Qatar, due to the vast population growth. But it isn't just population growth that is driving business; massive investment in the countries and high levels of tourism trade are aiding us," says Touaibi.

He also adds that compared to other regions across the globe, the HORECA trade is just as important as retail due to the vast numbers of people eating out-of-home across the Middle East.

Targeting the complete foodservice business is key to any beverage company in the region. And as part of this Perrier has a deal with Starbucks to supply its sparkling water to the coffee chain throughout the region, serving as the outlet's only premium sparkling mineral water.

"Working with this large chain is very important to us as it is crucial to have maximum visibility across all types of high-end food outlets," reiterates Touaibi.

Offering Perrier in 200ml, 330ml and 75cl glass bottles to the foodservice sector in order to maintain its "premier offering," the smaller bottles are also served in most mini bars in the market. The company has also launched a 250ml can for airline catering due to restraints on space and weight.

Launching the can with Air France, it is now available on several Middle Eastern carriers like Royal Jordanian, as well as the retail sector. Away from the main Perrier brand, seven years ago the company launched Eau de Perrier in France. Packaged in a blue bottle rather than the signature green offering, the mineral water has less gas than the signature Perrier.

"It is not as gaseous or sparkling so it is the perfect accompaniment to meals as a table water. It just gives an extra option to customers, because for some people Perrier can be slightly too strong and bubbly," Touaibi says.

Set to launch in the Middle East next month it will first be rolled out in the UAE and then in Qatar, Oman and the rest of the GCC. However, it will only be available in 75cl glass bottles. Touaibi says for the first 12 months Perrier predicts it will sell half a million bottles of Eau de Perrier in the UAE, leveraging on its UAE distributor Gulfco, which it has been partnered with since 1972.

"We chose the UAE because it is such a dynamic market. Even though Eau de Perrier has been in the global market for seven years it is still a baby brand, but this region is a perfect target market for us," he adds.

For all the latest travel news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.