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Rhne becomes leading AOC in UK

Published:  23 July, 2008

Ctes du Rhne has become the top-selling French AOC in the UK off-trade for the first time. Generic body Inter Rhne made the announcement while laying out its UK strategy for 2006, which will include sponsorship of Twenty20 cricket.
The latest AC Nielsen figures (MAT to 7 January) show that sales by volume increased by 10.6%, from 1,405,873 nine-litre cases to 1,554,936. Bordeaux fell by nearly 17% over the same period, down to 1,514,882 cases, and France overall saw a slump in sales of nearly 5%. Sales figures by value were absent, but Inter Rhne export manager Franois Drounau confirmed that the 10.6% increase applied to both.

And MD Pascal Barat, who took up his post one month ago, said that French wines will definitely make a comeback' in the UK, despite the gap between France and its nearest off-trade rival, the USA, narrowing from 4.32 million cases to 1.87 million in just one year.

Inter Rhne's marketing strategy has four aims:

maintain the high level of visibility of Ctes du Rhne

to the trade and press, with initiatives such as its new newsletter, The Rhne Red Top;

increase consumer awareness. Last year, Inter Rhne sponsored the Smooth FM radio station and advertised on numerous others, with a total investment of 320,000. That investment will be matched

this year on a similar plan', although there are no details

at this stage;

initiate a call to action to drive sales, with promotions

in supermarkets, as well as restaurants; and

increase consumer visibility, with Twenty20 sponsorship

and participation in consumer shows across the UK, such as the BBC Good Food Show.

Barat said that efforts would be made to improve packaging of Rhne wines, after market research showed that consumers wanted to see information on grape varieties and food-matching suggestions on the back label. He admitted that packaging was one of the weaknesses' of the region. Only 7% of respondents said they would prefer Rhne wines to be bottled under screwcap.