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Highland Spring Group and Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I conclude partnership after seven years

November 21st 2022: Following the outcome of an extensive strategic review, Highland Spring Group and Lucozade Ribena Suntory Limited trading as Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I have mutually agreed to end their distribution partnership.

The two companies have collaborated effectively to serve the market successfully over a seven-year period. However, both businesses have agreed that now is the right time to move in different directions and the partnership will officially end on 26th February 2023.

As part of the exit, Highland Spring Group have agreed a deal with SHS Sales & Marketing who will distribute its natural source water products in the impulse and out of home channels.

Under the deal, SHS will take over distribution of the Highland Spring and Hydr8 brands within wholesale, convenience and on-premise channels. The new partnership will continue to provide focused support to trade customers and drive sales in the natural source water category. Highland Spring Group will continue to handle the grocery channel and its private label business in-house.

The bottled water category saw a strong bounce back in 2021, growing to 3.48 billion litres, with total market volumes, following a strong second half of the year, back to near 2019 pre-pandemic levels. Highland Spring brand UK sales volumes grew by 6.3% to 348.6 million litres in 2021, securing a healthy market share of 10.0% of the total UK plain pack-aged water volumes.*

In August, Highland Spring Group’s new rail freight facility in Blackford was officially unveiled by the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon MSP. A major milestone for the company and a key part of the Group’s net zero strategy, the development will enable goods to be transported in a more environmentally sustainable way removing 8,000 HGV movements from the road and saving 3,200 tonnes of C02 every year.

Simon Oldham, Joint Managing Director, Highland Spring Group said, “We would like to thank Suntory for helping develop the Highland Spring brand over the last seven years and the part they have played in enabling us to achieve our position as the UK’s No.1 plain

bottled water brand. We look forward to partnering with SHS and continuing to be a trusted and valued partner for our customers.”

Alpesh Mistry, Sales Director at Suntory Beverage & Food GB&I said, “We have had a

wonderful collaboration with Highland Spring Group for a number of years. We exit our

relationship on excellent terms and this change will allow us to focus on delivering success for our core brands as well as to further concentrate efforts on our own product innovation initiatives across all retail channels and routes to market.”

John Heynen, Managing Director, SHS Sales & Marketing said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Highland Spring Group to distribute Highland Spring and Hydr8. Our highly experienced team is looking forward to continuing SHS’ strong track

record of delivering growth for its brand owners and customers with these leading brands in the wholesale, convenience and on-premise channels. The transition process is already

underway to ensure seamless ongoing management of trade customers ahead of the formal exit date.”