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Exclusive - GLOBAL: Champagne discounts "killing the drink", warns Pernod Ricard exec

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A Pernod Ricard Champagne regional head has branded heavy European discounting in the category “totally unacceptable”.

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Hughes Le Marié, Pernod's Americas and Western Europe director for GH Mumm, said prices as low as EUR6 (US$8) are “destroying the dream” of Champagne. He warned that the sector's trade body will tighten appellation rules in response.

Speaking exclusively to just-drinks today (21 June), Le Marié said: "The history of Champagne is unique but when people see they can buy a bottle for the same price as three bottles of Coca-Cola, you are on the way to killing the drink.”

“I'm pretty sure it won't happen again because the CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne) will be even more careful than before about not giving the appellation too easily.”

Le Marié said the low prices, which were at their lowest in France earlier this year, did not affect Mumm but could hurt smaller labels.

“It is totally unacceptable and these people are surely not playing on quality and taking the risk of destroying the dream that we have built around Champagne,” he said.

Le Marié said Pernod is investing strongly in its other Champagne brand Perrier-Jouët in Brazil, where it hopes sales can help make up for a slumping domestic market despite a slowdown in economic growth.

“The economy has slowed down to 1%, but the future is certainly less bright in France than in Brazil,” he said. “In Brazil 1% growth is an accident, in France it is the rule.”

Perrier-Jouët is Champagne's fourth-biggest label in Brazil in a market "dominated" by LVMH's Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot, Le Marié said.

According to figures last week, Champagne sales fell 17% in France in March, but exports outside the EU edged up. 


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