Nestle Considers Perrier Sale

Sept. 15, 2004

Nestle SA said Wednesday it is considering whether to sell French mineral water brand Perrier, after a top trade union blocked a plan to cut almost 800 jobs.

The sale of Perrier is a "project that will be examined along with others," Nestle Waters France said in a statement.

The company announced plans to establish Perrier as a stand-alone subsidiary with separate accounts from those of its parent company and fellow French brands Contrex, Vittel and Quezac – preparing the ground for a possible sale.

Peter Brabeck, chief executive of the Swiss food and drink giant, first threatened in March to sell Perrier, citing the high cost of producing bottled water in France compared with Italy and other European countries.

In a meeting with workers' representatives Wednesday, Nestle Waters said it emphasized the need for "flexibility and productivity in line with that of the competition."

Nestle Waters negotiated a deal with unions to offer early retirement to 1,047 workers and replace 276 with new hires. Two unions signed on, but the Communist-backed CGT – which represents a majority of the staff – blocked the plan after nine months of talks.

Source: The Associated Press