Nicolas Feuillatte has said 2018 will be its year as new ranges and packaging changes will bring about major change for the brand and its new MD.
Speaking to Imbibe at the official launch of the brand’s €25m ultra modern visitor centre and office complex in Épernay, Christophe Juarez spoke of his excitement at the new role and the next 12 months for the 30m bottle a year brand.
‘I look at the fizzy phenomenon as a good opportunity for the champagne industry to come back on the market,’ he said. ‘The spritz effect will change the whole category and put champagne at a whole new level.’
Juarez wants Nicolas Feuillatte to play on the ‘quality side and not the fashion/trend side’ of the market and hopes a more targeted approach for the on- and off-trade will achieve this.
‘The on-trade needs to be addressed,’ the MD said candidly. ‘We consider the on-trade as a key entry point for all our marketing efforts. In the UK, the on-trade is an effective and dynamic network. We must manage the image and the brand build in the three years to come.’
He continued: ‘It is a difficult environment and everybody is trying to achieve fantastic figures and have the most striking activations. But we have to be careful that the UK is still the premium market for champagne – when it comes to volumes.
‘The on-trade has always been an important route-to-market and all the mixologist and bar activity has come out in a very striking way.’
The new MD said he wants to establish the brand as a ‘champagne for the on-trade’, namely bars.
‘The restaurant sector is tougher for us because we don’t have the level of awareness that we need,’ Juarez said. ‘Becoming the pouring champagne is easier to achieve but I’m not sure that is the best way. We are focusing our efforts on the bars.’
Frosts earlier in the year shouldn’t hamper the company’s plans. Chef de cave, Guillaume Roffiaen said initial fears of 30% losses now appear to be more like 15-20% after blooming.
Changes to the packaging and range extensions are in ‘really early stages’ and announcements will be made in the next six to eight months about when the changes will come into force.
‘2018 will be the year for us,’ Juarez added.