The watercooler market in France has evolved significantly

François Gilleron

Sales & Marketing Director, Château d'Eau France & Chair of AFIFAE

October 30, 2015

I think that the watercooler market in France has evolved significantly. After the decline of the BWC market, we have seen a stabilisation, with customers looking for better quality products and services.

  • WE

    Could you give us some background on how long you have been in the industry?

  • François Gilleron

    CHATEAUD’EAU – EDENSPRINGS France

    I’ve been involved in the industry for 20 years, the last 14 of which has been with my current company Chateaud’eau (Eden Springs) where I am working as the Sales & Marketing Director.

  • WE

    What is the general history of AFIFAE and its members?

  • François Gilleron

    Founded in 1997, AFIFAE brings together manufacturers, distributors and suppliers of both POU and BWC. Today the Association has 12 members not only from within France itself, but also from the French overseas territories, and even one Moroccan member.

  • WE

    What are the aims of AFIFAE and plans for the future?

  • François Gilleron

    AFIFAE has two main aims:

    1) Representing and defending the sector to promote its products and quality standards. Over the last few months, AFIFAE has worked on a good practices guide for both POU and BWC, updated its tests for BWC water which are necessary for members to be able to use the AFIFAE logo. The Association continues to promote the highest quality standards.

    2) AFIFAE actively promotes hydration, especially in the work place. In this regard AFIFAE was particularly active during the debates on the draft bill for health in France this summer. The Association also led some communication actions during the heatwave of Summer 2015 (see http://www.afifae.fr )

    One of our main focuses during the last year has been the ban of BPA in bottles in France. Indeed, France was the first European country to ban this substance. AFIFAE negotiated with the regulators to extend the transition period and postpone enforcement date. This debate is on a European level since the EFSA published opposing results to the French agency ANSES on the dangers of BPA. As this debate goes on, AFIFAE remains vigilant.

    Finally, plastic cups will be banned in France from 2020. AFIFAE and its members will do everything possible to find a convenient and economic solution with the regulators, the plastic industry and our partners.

  • WE

    Could you describe the current watercooler market in France and where you think it is going?

  • François Gilleron

    In 2014, there were around 200,000 BWC and 262,000 POU watercoolers. The BWC market, which has been declining over the past 6-7 years is likely to stabilise in 2015, in comparison to the POU market which has a strong growth of 10-15%.

    I think that the watercooler market in France has evolved significantly. After the decline of the BWC market, we have seen a stabilisation, with customers looking for better quality products and services. This stabilisation may also be due to the end of the BPA-discussions and the trend of customers to drink spring water.

  • WE

    Is there any particular issue in France that you believe has implications for WE and its members?

  • François Gilleron

    Yes, for sure the BPA issue and, to a lesser extent, the ban of plastic cups ! That is why we need WE’s support in our actions.

  • WE

    What is the experience of AFIFAE members regarding bottled water coolers v. POU?

  • François Gilleron

    As I said earlier, our market is divided (200,000 vs 262,000) when previous to 2012 there were more BWC than POC. The tendency is now stabilizing.

  • WE

    You have just joined WE EXECO – is there a particular contribution you would like to make?

  • François Gilleron

    I am looking forward to contributing to the views, ideas and actions of the EXECO. France is a major player with a mature market, also framed by a strict legislation. AFIFAE has to be regarded as a real value for WE.

  • WE

    What did you hope to achieve by attending WE Rome 2015?

  • François Gilleron

    We held our regular board meeting in this amazing city. I exchanged ideas with my partners, and learnt more about the working of WE. This marks the return of the French industry within the European issues.

  • WE

    How do you see the future of WE?

  • François Gilleron

    WE is the European federation. Thanks to the work of the board and of WE within the European institutions, I have no doubt it will become an important actor for the sector

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