Festive discounts boost Champagne

A pick-up in pre-Christmas UK Champagne sales helped the French region restore some respectability to its 2009 export figures.

December shipments to European export markets were up 24% on the same month in 2008, with some late restocking as shelves emptied on the back of Christmas run-in promotions.

This is in contrast to August figures, where the running total for 2009 shipments to European markets was a third down on the same period in 2008.

Now CIVC, Champagne’s governing body, is predicting total shipments will reach 290 million bottles?, about 10% down on 2008?, according to director Daniel Lorson.

Referring to the late surge, Michel

etter, chief executive officer of Mumm and Perrier-Jouët, said: “A big part of this was cheap brands.” Although the latest shipments figures for the UK? to the end of November? show a fall of 25% against the first 11 months of 2008, the year-end drop is expected to be

ess savage.

Nielsen figures for the UK off-trade show that volume was up 25% and value by 21% in the eight weeks trading to Boxing Day.

Andrew Hawes, managing director of Bollinger agent Mentzendorff, said

supermarket discounts on Champagne – including Bollinger Special Cuvée at £17.95 in Morrisons in late November – resulted in renewed interest in the category as a whole. The strongest brands gained share in what he called “classic recessionary behaviour”.

Hawes added: “Demand has polarised between strong brands and those able to hit price points for the cheapies. Bollinger gained share in a market that has fallen over the year.”?He was cautious about whether the recovery will last into 2010? and said a recovery in sterling would help.