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Delhi Wine Club
Heidsieck Champagnes Stay in French Hands

Posted: Friday, 18 March 2011 10:38

Heidsieck Champagnes Stay in French Hands

Rémy Cointreau has sold off its loss-making champagne division, including the Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck brands to a family owned clothing company Société Europeenne de Participations Industrielles for a reported sum of €400 million after the likes of LVMH, Pernod Ricard and Nicolas Feuillatte ruled themselves out

Although the buying company EPI, owned and run by the well-known Descours family is a conglomerate with big interest in clothing line and several French brands to its credit, it has a limited wine interest also in the form of a chateau it has owned in Cotes du Luberon estate Château La Verrerie in Puget, in the heart of Luberon in Provence for the last 30 years.

The industry observers had anticipated bids to come from established players in the Champagne region. But they must be relieved that the company at least remains in the hands of the French. A few years ago when Vijay Mallya of UB Group in India, had bid for the purchase of another well known house Taittinger in 2006, there had been an uproar in the region with the close-knit champagne producers expressing indignation at a well-known champagne house going into the hands of a non-French owner. Mallya had to later settle for Bouvet Ladubay, a subsidiary of Taittinger in the Loire Valley.

Details of the deal have not yet been made public by Remy Cointreau , but it has been stuck at €400 million, according to Decanter. This gives EPI both the champagne houses Piper Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck with a 4-year inventory of 40 million bottles and 800 hAs of vineyard estate, split between the two labels.

The champagne division owned by the well-known cognac house Rémy Cointreau was running at an operating loss till recently despite the sale of €97million last year but was expected to break even this year. It provided around 12% of the group sales revenue.

Completion of the sale will be naturally subject to various routine formalities including the clearance by the relevant competition authorities and the rules thereof. EPI has reportedly announced no major staff changes and that the company will not be split.

Piper Heidsieck champagne is being sold through Sula in India after the Indian subsidiary was established by Remy Cointreau in India a couple of years ago. Rajeev Samant of Sula, their exclusive country distributors for all products including Piper Heidsieck informs delWine, ‘it is too early to tell what the implication might be. We shall have to wait for a few days.’

In the meanwhile, Piper-Heidsieck has made a break-through this week with ITC Maurya hotels that have purchased a few hundred bottles of Champagne for their unlimited champagne buffet lunches on Sundays. Moet et Chandon enjoys a virtual monopoly in this segment so far.

Rukn Luthra, Managing Director of the Indian arm of Remy Cointreau said the details had not been received by them internally by the parent company but it was - only the sale had been confirmed yet. However, since the new owners are not in the alcobev business it would be fair and logical to assume that they would not be directly involved with the distribution of the product globally and might continue with Remy in which case Sula should not be affected by this change of ownership.

Deepak Bhatnagar, Sr. Vice president Sales at Sula re-affirmed that Sula and Piper Heidsieck were committed to climb to the number two position in the Champagne market in India. ‘if the similar support continues from the new owners, the target is achievable in a couple of years,’  said Cecilia Oldne, Head- International Business for Sula, who is quite upbeat about reaching the coveted position-the company is  already doing excellent sales of Cointreau-perhaps the most sold liqueur in India.

The owners-past as well as new, would be well advised not only to continue the existing distributor relationship in India but augment the existing support, in the initial period after the changeover. In a country like India where finding a good importer is the key to the success of any brand, Piper Heidsieck has just started making the initial impact in the virtual monopoly market controlled by Moet et Chandon.

There may be slight uncertainty in the air at the moment with the news announcement but the champagne market is getting ready to be more crisp and refreshing.

Subhash Arora



Bubi Says:

Thanks for writing such an easy-to-understand arictle on this topic.

Posted @ August 01, 2011 11:29


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