Swiss food and drinks giant Nestle has stamped its brand on its Perrier Vittel bottled water unit, renaming it Nestle Waters. The bottled water business has become an increasingly important driver of the company's revenue, according to a report from Dow Jones.
"We are now 8.8 per cent of Nestle's revenue. Ten years ago, we were 4.7 per cent," said the chief executive of the newly renamed company, Frits van Dijk.
Nestle is the world market leader in bottled mineral water, with brands such as Vittel, Perrier, Contrex, San Pellegrino and Poland Spring.
Last week Nestle reported that its bottled water activities generated revenue of CHF1.74 billion (€1.19bn) in the first quarter of 2002, up 12 per cent from CHF1.56 billion in the same period last year.
Organic revenue growth at the unit was 11 per cent, Nestle said, while its total first-quarter sales rose an annual 10 per cent to CHF21.31 billion.
The CEO of the former Perrier Vittel, created in 1992 when Nestle bought Sources Perrier, also said the company lifted its net profit 23 per cent in 2001 to CHF618 million from CHF503 million in 2000.
Van Dijk said that performance was achieved in a market which the company estimated grew about 6 per cent in the year.
"The importance of the water business is such that you now see it broken down in all Nestle accounting reports," van Dijk told reporters at a news conference.
The name change is the third since 1992 and also reflects the fact that the 66 local market brands the company owns account for 76 per cent of its total water business.
Van Dijk said the company's four main international brands - Perrier, Vittel, San Pellegrino and Contrex - make up 22 per cent of Nestle Waters' revenue.
By region, Van Dijk said North America accounted for 49 per cent of Nestle Waters' revenue in 2001, compared with 45 per cent for Europe, 4 per cent in Asia and 3 per cent in Latin America.
Revenue in 2001 was CHF7.5 billion, up 25 per cent from 6 billion in 2000.