Water Brands Group, the independent owner of Harrogate Spring Water and charity water Thirsty Planet, has increased exports by 55 per cent, as foreign consumers develop a growing taste for British spring water.
The company now exports worldwide, to markets including Ukraine, China, Korea and the Caribbean, with sales in Russia showing a 40 per cent year-on-year increase.
The family-owned business is also now investing £6m in a new state-of-the-art production facility that will allow it to quadruple its production and help fuel further international growth.
Last year the Harrogate based business exported nearly two million bottles of spring water, with Russia being its largest overseas market.
Working with the Svam Group, one of Russia’s largest beer and soft drink distributors, Harrogate Spring Water is now available in Moscow Airport, Russian Costa Coffee outlets, the Sheraton and 50 O’key stores, one of the country’s largest retail chains. It is also reputed to be Vladimir Putin’s favourite water.
The business believes that its strong British identity, classic design and authenticity are helping to drive its appeal in foreign markets. Harrogate’s iconic water was voted ‘Best Sparkling Water in the World’ and is the original British bottled water, boasting an extraordinary heritage dating back to 1571.
James Cain, managing director of the group, said:
We’re seeing incredible demand for our product from overseas markets, including countries with an already strong Spring and Mineral water offering.
The power of a brand combining Britishness and enduring premium appeal is a hugely strong proposition for foreign consumers; and that has led to the Svam Group now becoming one of our top 10 customers. We now produce a bespoke Russian language labelled bottle, complete with Union Jack.
Water Brands recently hosted a delegation from Svam, who were on a UK fact-finding mission.
Pavel Mikhalchenko, partner at the Svam Group, added:
There is strong relationship between Harrogate and Russia, as its Royal Family were frequent visitors to the spa town to ‘take the waters’ dating back to the late 1800’s.
That association has not been lost and we’ve actively built on it to reinforce those established premium brand values when marketing Harrogate Spring. Previously imported water into Russia was dominated by French and Italian brands, but Harrogate has a real point of difference that is appealing to our consumers.
These most recent export successes come after record-breaking trading periods for the fast- growing company, which saw gross sales of 10m bottles sold in July 2013. Consistently outperforming market growth in the bottled water category, Water Brands grew by 16 per cent in the last financial year to over £8 million – against a UK market increase of 3.3 per cent.
Photograph: James Cain, MD and Pavel Mikhalchenko, partner at Svam Group