Chris Mercer

Drinks makers toast thirst for luxury

By: Chris Mercer - 19 October 2011 15:29

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Like retired colonels sipping Champagne on the deck of the sinking Titanic, there are plenty of consumers around the world who still very much have a taste for luxury.

If you're going down then you may as well go down in style. Sales results from Moet Hennessy and, to a lesser extent, Diageo have shown this week that plenty of consumers around the world still have a taste for premium spirits and Champagne.

A large proportion of those consumers may be in the so-called emerging markets, be it expensive Cognac lovers in China or Russians with a refreshed economy and a wallet bulging for bling. However, the US spirits market also appears to have continued its upward momentum in 2011.

Diageo said today (19 October) that spirits drove its net sales in North America up by 5% for the first quarter of its fiscal year, to the end of September, even though its volume sales slipped by 2%.

Will it last? Diageo's CEO, Paul Walsh, was careful to highlight that the company is "alert to any impact which the fragile global economy may have on trading patterns". Moet Hennessy, meanwhile, saw its momentum slow slightly from the first half of 2011 to the third quarter.

Some markets are clearly in trouble, particularly those in southern Europe. There does, though, seem to be a hardcore of consumers who are intent on carrying on regardless of the gathering global economic storm clouds. 

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