Morocco's Les Eaux Minerales d'Oulmes sees revenue drop due boycott

RABAT, June 28 (Reuters) - Moroccan bottled water company Les Eaux Minerales d’Oulmes issued a revenue warning for the first six months of the year on Thursday due to a consumer boycott that has hit its Sidi Ali brand since April 20.

“In a social and economic context marked by the boycott of several widely consumed brands including Sidi Ali, Les Eaux Minerales d’Oulmes anticipates a drop in its revenues for the first half of 2018,” the company said in a statement.

Activists launched the online protest on Facebook on April 20 against what they said were high prices charged by Sidi Ali, Centrale Danone dairy company and the Afriquia fuel stations owned by billionaire agriculture minister Aziz Akhannouch’s Akwa group.

Before the boycott, the company’s share of the mineral water market was estimated at 70 percent. It posted a profit of 195 million dirhams ($20.5 million) in 2017, 16 percent up compared with 2016.

The company did not give details on losses in the warning but said that Sidi Ali sales had “plummeted sharply”.

To mitigate the impact of the protest, Les Eaux Minerales d’Oulmes said it would rationalise and optimise costs in order to maintain its development strategy and protect jobs.

In reaction to the boycott, the company said in a statement last month that lower prices required lower taxes.

Centrale Danone issued earlier this month a profit warning announcing a loss of 150 million dirhams because of the boycott in the six months ending June 30. (Reporting by Ahmed Eljechtimi Editing by Aidan Lewis/David Evans)