Danone Waters UK, the owner of Evian and Volvic mineral water, has promoted James Pearson to the role of commercial director in a bid to restore growth in bottled water sales.

The former sales development director at Groupe Danone will lead teams in the grocery and impulse sales divisions and also manage the business development team at Danone Water UK's head office in west London.

He takes over from James Mayer who has been promoted to vice president of sales at Danone Baby Nutrition, a new division of Groupe Danone.

"The bottled water industry faces big challenges," Pearson admitted. "It has been a difficult 12 months for the category with poor weather and mixed consumer perceptions of the benefits of bottled water over tap water. But I have got a valuable 10 years of experience in the soft drinks business and will seek to generate decent and sustainable growth across our portfolio. Naturally, good summer weather will also help matters."

Last month, Danone Waters blamed a 9% year-on-year fall in bottled water sales, according to TNS, on poor weather rather than changing consumer trends.

It insisted sales of its Evian and Volvic brands had risen 55% year-on-year, according to its internal data.

Prior to Groupe Danone, Pearson was grocery sales director and grocery & retail controller at Danone Waters UK. He first joined the company in March 2003 following five years at Coca-Cola Enterprises in a variety of commercial roles.

In his 18 months as sales development director at Groupe Danone, during which he was based at the group's Paris head office, Pearson was responsible for exploring different sales methods of connecting with the 70% of shoppers who make their purchasing decisions in-store.