Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.


Published:  23 July, 2008

Tom Stevenson

Champagne Canard-Duchne has been sold to Alain Thienot (owner of Joseph Perrier and Marie Stuart) and Champagne Charles de Cazenove to GH Martell (Rapeneau et al). Martell is cash-rich, but desperately needed to buy something, as it had lost the contract to bottle the Maxim's brand, causing its sales to plummet. However, the Canard-Duchne deal came as a surprise to everyone in Champagne, not because LVMH had decided to sell yet another of its houses (Pommery was sold to Vranken in June 2002), but because it was widely thought that Marne et Champagne would be the buyer. Marne et Champagne was believed to be bidding so that it could cut the exposure of its own Alfred Rothschild brand. Canard-Duchne sells about 2.4 million bottles, but is weak on exports, so it would have been ideally suited to replace Alfred Rothschild, Marne et Champagne's number one brand (if Lanson is viewed as a separate entity). Sales of Alfred Rothschild have been restricted to the domestic market following a legal wrangle with the Rothschild family, which takes a royalty on every bottle sold, biting into Marne et Champagne's profitability. The company has little incentive to increase sales of the brand, especially when it has more than 200 others to promote, and the acquisition of a new, stronger domestic brand would have increased both turnover and profitability. With Canard-Duchne no longer a possibility, rumours are circulating that Marne et Champagne might be looking to buy LVMH's Mercier. This is not as far-fetched as it may sound. Such a deal would make sense if LVMH were to keep just its major international brands (Mot, Veuve Clicquot, Krug and perhaps Dom Ruinart), which are the biggest money-spinners. Mercier is just a regular supermarket brand in France and has no sex appeal on the international scene. The only barrier to such a deal appears to be a lack of money. Mercier sells around 6 million bottles and would be very expensive. After buying Lanson at the top of the market, Marne et Champagne simply does not have sufficient cash to buy Mercier.