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Chamarr hits the target

Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jack Hibberd
Chamarr - arguably the most ambitious French wine launch in history - is on track to be the biggest French brand in the UK within five years, according to its owners.

Export director Vincent Norguet said the brand - which hit the shelves in May - will sell half a million bottles in the UK by the end of the year. And with listings at two of the big grocery multiples' joining the existing listings with Somerfield, Morrisons and Thresher this autumn, sales are expected to at least' double in 2007. The target is to get the brand into the AC Nielsen top ten brand table and to turn it into the best-selling French brand in the UK,' said Norguet.

We aim to make this happen by 2010 - which will mean we will have to sell well over a million cases a year. Something I am confident of doing.'

The brand - owned by OVS and produced by 15,000 independent and co-operative growers from around France - currently consists of three ranges: Vin de Pays varietal and bi-varietal wines at 4.99; Signature Blends at 5.99 (three different blends of grapes from across France bottled as Vin de Table wines); and a range of different AOC wines at various prices (with Beaujolais the latest region to be signed up). All three tiers have found listings in the UK. As well as the brand name a butterfly logo is prominent on the labels to give coherence to the different ranges' packaging.

The brand has also recently been launched in the US, with distribution expected in seven to 10 states by the end of the year.

So far the best markets for us have been the UK and Scandinavia, although we have also seen some interest in France and have secured listings in LeClerk and Monoprix. This suprised us as it was never designed for the French consumer.

The brand is proving very successful so far and what this shows is that the trade and consumers have been waiting for a brand like this from France. It's about creating a new world of French wines, retelling the story in a way that appeals to modern consumers. We've taken risks by backing the brand with a large promotional budget and investing before the launch in consumer research and getting the packaging just right. We won't start making money until year three. But in the modern wine market you have to do things properly if you want to be competitive,' said Norguet.

The UK distribution is being handled by Thierry's.