France: Straight from the Spa

The French love whatever comes out of a bottle, even if it happens to be water. Not ordinary water, of course, which they distrust. Last year they spent $160 million to buy 1.75 billion bottles of Eau minérale.

Roughly half of this considerable market last week came under the control of a single firm, Source Perrier. Perrier (280 million bottles annually), which had already acquired Contrexéville (300 million), and sells seven smaller brands, announced the acquisition of the Compagnie Fermière de Vichy (250 million). Gurgled Perrier Chairman Gustave Leven: "We have become the biggest mineral-water firm in the world."

Leven,...

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