WATER cooler maker Ebac has created jobs at its County Durham base after investing £500,000 in a new service to tap into the multi-million pound mineral water industry.

Ebac Group, based in Bishop Auckland, is launching a home delivery service of bottled mineral water to homes across the North-East.

The company has created 12 jobs through its investment in the development and launch of the service.

In supermarkets the biggest growth area is multi-packs of 1.5 litre bottles - which weigh up to 9kg.

Sales of supermarket-bought bottled mineral water has more than trebled in the past five years, and Ebac hopes to capture a slice of the multi-million pound market.

The company hopes people will buy its newly-produced domestic watercooler, and home water delivery service, to save space in their fridges and reduce their shopping weight.

The home delivery section of the company is called Bottled Water Direct. Director Tony Hird said: "We continually look at ways to expand our operations in the North-East, and this new venture is a natural compliment to another of our business interests - making watercoolers.

"This service looks to challenge fizzy and sugary drinks in the convenience stakes.

"By making mineral water accessible, and taking the hassle out of bringing it home, we hope to change people's habits away from sugary drinks.

"Effectively we look to provide homes in the North-East with chilled mineral water on tap."

Ebac has teamed up with an Italian partner to provide the mineral water, Sincera.

John Elliott, chairman and founder of Ebac, said: "We have been in the bottled water industry for the past 12 years, and supported many new commercial ventures both in the UK and abroad.

"This has provided us with a profound understanding of how to run a water delivery service, and we are confident we can streamline the processes to enable us to extend this service nationwide in the future."

The launch will be supported by a regional advertising campaign as well as exhibitions.

The Ebac Group is privately owned and employs 350 people, mainly in manufacturing.