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LWF: Nicolas Feuillatte targets UK on-trade as part of global investment strategy

Published:  24 May, 2018

Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte is looking to the UK to replicate its success in penetrating the US on-trade with the launch of channel-specific labels, backed by major ongoing investment, promising to deliver “Champagne for the many, not the few”.

Speaking to Harpers at the London Wine Fair, managing director Christophe Juarez, who has been in the role for a year, spoke of making a “big statement”, with an investment programme designed to further raise the grower-owned house’s profile on the world stage, while looking for a new partner to boost its UK restaurant and bar sales.

Juarez said that a dip in operating profits for 2017, for which the company posted sales of €200 million, down 20% on 2016, was due to wholly self-financed investments made, including the opening of a €25 million visitor centre last summer, attracting 20,000 visitors in its first year.

Coming from a luxury goods background with companies such as L’Oréal and Chanel, Juarez said that his aim for Nicolas Feuillatte, which is the top selling Champagne brand in France and third in the world, was to be an “anti-snob label at an affordable price”, helping dispel the notion that Champagne is “for special occasions”.

“The key lesson that I bring from my background is that consistency is important and we are taking a dual strategy, promoting Nicolas Feuillatte as a brand name, but also focusing on the winemaking and the story of the wine in the bottle – this is very important,” he said.

“The Champagne wine industry has to promote itself by leveraging the quality of the product, but also the status of the product, and this has to be done with care in the current economic environment.”

With regard to the broader fortunes of Champagne in the UK, Juarez said that the market remained tough, but is “recovering” momentum, with potential to drive greater sales in the on-trade.

While agreeing that prices for grapes would inevitably continue to rise, Juarez believes that the business model of this relatively young Champagne house will protect it to a degree, as the growers are stakeholders in the company, receiving a share of the profits from successes in the market.

“It is not only a question of price, but also of the success we share as a company,” said Juarez.

Nicolas Feuillatte would not be drawn on the exact figure of the investment being made, with Juarez simply describing it as a very significant sum.