Danone to acquire majority stake in Harrogate bottled water

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

James Cain, Harrogate Water CEO; and James Pearson, Managing Director, Danone
James Cain, Harrogate Water CEO; and James Pearson, Managing Director, Danone

Related tags Bottled water Danone

Danone will acquire a majority stake in Harrogate Spring Water - one of the UK’s fastest growing bottled waters – adding the premium brand to a portfolio that includes evian, Volvic and Font Vella.

Harrogate Spring Water’s history goes back to 1571 and was first bottled in 1740, making it Britain's oldest bottled water. It is now Britain's top premium water brand, number 1 in foodservice and the fastest growing bottled water brand. Alongside its retail locations, it is found at Michelin-starred restaurants; The Royal Albert Hall; Tate Modern; and is the official bottled water of Royal Ascot. 

Danone will acquire the stake in Harrogate Water Brands via a UK subsidiary. The current shareholders of Harrogate Water, the Cain family, will remain as minority shareholders and continue to be involved in the company.

Expanding Harrogate in retail 

Danone says the acquisition will help it develop its waters portfolio in the UK. It says it will also help the Harrogate Water portfolio grow: combining Harrogate Water’s experience in foodservice and out-of-home alongside Danone’s know-how in retail.

The companies say it also reflects a shared sustainability ambition: Harrogate Water has launched 100% recyclable packaging, alongside bottles made from majority recycled content - both PET (rPET) and glass - as well as a partnership with Keep Britain Tidy. Danone, meanwhile, has pledged for its Waters business to be carbon neutral in Europe by 2030 and to use 100% rPET in Europe by 2025.

James Pearson, managing director, Danone Waters UK & Ireland, said: “This move will expand our offering in the UK and help to meet growing demand in sparkling water and on-the-go consumption.

“Danone’s heritage and strength lies in doing business in a responsible way: one that recognises the importance of sustainable growth alongside a commitment to protect our planet, promote health and value the people within our company and those we partner with.

“We’ve been impressed with Harrogate Water’s commitment to these same values, including a shared ambition to become BCorp certified and to protecting our unique water sources, and we are excited to support the next step of their journey, inspiring more people towards healthier hydration.”

James Cain OBE, Harrogate Water CEO, will continue to lead the Harrogate Water business and will join the Danone Waters UK management team. “We are delighted to have found the right partner to take Harrogate Water forward on its journey, while respecting and celebrating our history and heritage,”​ he said.

“This is a great investment for the town of Harrogate and the Yorkshire region. We are incredibly proud to become part of the Danone family, and are excited about the benefits this will bring to Harrogate as we continue to produce one of the world’s finest natural source waters from the original British spa town, for everyone to enjoy.”

The completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval.

Danone Water’s portfolio, which specialises in natural source waters, includes the world’s top natural mineral water evian; natural mineral water Volvic; Spanish sourced Font Vella; and Indonesian mineral water AQUA.

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