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How a Victorian exercise craze whipped Perrier into shape

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Everyone loves a smart business idea. And in 1903 British aristocratic Sir John Harmsworth had one: selling the ‘Champagne of table waters’. Think quality French fizz in funky bottles, without alcohol.

Harmsworth got cracking, and bought the rights to a spring in Vergèze, Southern France from Dr. Louis Perrier, who had sold the waters there to spa visitors since 1898.

Cool products need cool packaging, and Harmsworth designed a glass bottle shaped like the Indian wooden swinging clubs or that, like any self-respecting Victorian gent, he used to exercise each day. Genius, right? Anyway. Cool bottle + Perrier = global success story.

When he wasn’t swinging clubs, Harmsworth used his connections to start selling Perrier around Europe. The iconic French brand found some early fans within the British establishment, including the Army and the Royal Family.

After the Second World War the Perrier spring was largely forgotten, although local people still sold their local bubbly for three times the price of local wine. But in 1947, enterprising young Frenchman Gustave Leven re-launched the brand worldwide, and we bought it in 1992.

Today Perrier sparkles brightly on the global stage in its distinctive bottle. But it’s kept its feet firmly on the ground in Vergèze, where every bottle and can is made.