St John Harmsworth - a wealthy British visitor who bought the Perrier spring in 1903 while he was in France to learn the language - was the younger brother of the British newspaper magnates Viscount Northcliffe and Viscount Rothermere, and owned the Perrier spring at Vergèze until his death in 1933.
- The history of Perrier
- 218 BC: Hannibal is said to have set up camp near a spring in southern France on his way to take the battle to Rome; his troops found the naturally carbonated waters to be refreshing.
58 BC: Julius Caesar, proconsul of the Gauls, rewards his soldiers by giving them plots of land on the plain of Languedoc, near the Perrier spring. A stone basin and buildings were put up, a precursor of the spa that was to appear in years to come.
1863: The Granier family became owners of the Les Bouillens estate at Vergèze in 1769. Napoleon III signed a decree recognising the spring’s water as natural mineral water and Alphonse Granier was the first to commercialise it as a spa with scientific recognition. Les Bouillens – the name means ‘boiling water’ in reference to its carbonated nature – were destroyed by fire in 1869 and all activities stopped in 1884.
1898: Louis-Eugène Perrier becomes the owner of Les Bouillens. He renamed the spring and the spa the Société des Eaux Minérales, Boissons et Produits Hygiéniques de Vergèze, and threw himself (he was a physician) into championing the spa and selling the water.
1903: The struggle uses up the doctor’s funds, and he sells to St John Harmsworth, a Briton who was in France to learn the language. It had been a hard challenge to sell water to the French, who generally preferred wine. Harmsworth named the source after Louis-Eugène. He also designed the iconic bottles based on the Indian clubs he used for exercise.
1905: Harmsworth opens the door to the British Empire and supplies the British Army in the Indies. Perrier becomes a supplier ‘By Appointment’ to the British royal household - Purveyor by Appointment to his Majesty the King of England when Perrier is served at Buckingham Palace.
1908: Perrier is awarded the Grand Prix des Eaux Minérales Vente de l'Année for selling 5 million bottles. At that time, Perrier was better known in London, Delhi and Singapore than in Paris - a paradoxical situation which did not last for long.
1933: only half of Perrier’s production is exported, with the rest remaining in France, resulting in Perrier being declared "d'Intérêt Public" (of Public Interest). France had finally been won over. St John Harmsworth had considerably expanded the “Compagnie de la Source Perrier” and was responsible for its strong brand identity and image. The same year, in 1933, Harmsworth died.
1947: Running short of money for upkeep, shareholders sell the company. A young stockbroker, Gustave Leven, came across the abandoned spring and concluded that if the people of Vergèze could sell a natural mineral water for three times the price of a bottle of wine, then the company must have remarkable potential. He bought it.
1948 - 1973: Leven launched an extensive plan to modernize the facilities. From 1948 to 1952, production quintupled to 150 million bottles. The factory, now known as ‘the cathedral’ increased from 6,000 to over 26,000 square metres. In 1954, the Vergèze plant became a fully integrated site. Everything from the bottle tops to the packing crates were manufactured on site, and since 1973, the Verrerie du Languedoc (glassworks) has made all the bottles.
1976: An office was opened in New York. By 1988, Perrier was selling nearly 300 million bottles in the US, 80% of all imported mineral water. The flavoured varieties were launched in the US before France.
1990: When Gustave Leven stepped down as Chairman of the group, Perrier was the leading mineral water brand in the world.
1992: Perrier was taken over by Nestlé, forming the Nestlé Waters SA group, now the world leader in bottled water with nearly 70 brands with Perrier, Vittel, Contrex, S. Pellegrino and also Nestlé Pure Life, Nestlé Aquarel, etc.
Today: With a presence in 140 countries, Perrier is one of the most widely exported French beverages. Always cutting edge, the brand aims to project a bold, offbeat image, while keeping its elegance as its hallmark. From advertising campaigns to limited editions, Perrier has always been linked to the big names in art... Unique taste, fizzing with bubbles and providing the ultimate refreshment... Perrier is the fashionable choice.
- Fact and Figures:
Almost 1 billion bottles of Perrier are sold each year.
Perrier is sold in 140 countries in the world
The process that results in Perrier – rainwater seeping to meet volcanic gases – began about 120 million years ago.
Vergèze is in the Département of Gard in southern France, between Nîmes and Montpellier.
Mineralisation of Perrier (mg/l): Ca2+ 155; Mg2+ 6,8; Na+ 9,5; Hco32- 430; So42- 33; No3; 7,8; Cl- 22; Dry residue 180° C. 480.
Perrier is available unflavoured in glass, PET and cans, flavoured and also in limited edition designer bottles and cans – discover Perrier.
“Mineral water is a natural resource which is continually being replaced as rainwater and snow seep into the soil and subsoil. Every natural mineral water is slowly filtered by rocks and sand, from which it derives its mineral content (calcium, magnesium, potassium, etc.). Subterranean in origin, protected from human pollution and by being bottled at the source, natural mineral water is clear, and characterized by original purity and a unique mineral salt content that remains stable over time. In fact, it is the only type of water that boasts the health-giving properties recognized by France's Academy of Medicine.”
- More news about Perrier:
Slideshow: Celebrating 150 years of Nestlé's sparkling bottled water brand Perrier
Join the ‘hottest party of the summer’ with Perrier’s new digital campaign
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- Facts and Figures (pdf, 153 Kb)