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Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte Eyes On-Premise Expansion In U.S.

July 10, 2018

With Champagne showing solid growth in the U.S. market, fourth-ranked brand Nicolas Feuillatte—imported by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates—tells SND it sees opportunity to bolster its position in the on-trade. The brand, which has global volume of 860,000 cases, according to Impact Databank, is relaunching its full lineup this fall with new packaging and an increased focus on the by-the-glass segment in particular. The changes come following the appointment of luxury goods veteran Christophe Juarez as managing director just over a year ago. Juarez was previously managing director for Burgundy’s Domaine Laroche and has also held senior roles with Chanel, Cartier, and L’Oreal.

Under the relaunch, which will begin in the fourth quarter, Feuillatte’s U.S. offering will see its Brut Reserve ($36) and Brut Rosé ($53) grouped in a new Reserve Exclusive tier, while its Blanc de Blancs and vintage bubblies will be in the Collection Vintage tier. Feuillatte’s Palmes d’Or prestige cuvée will be unaffected by the changes.

With the revamp, Feuillatte is looking to return to growth in the U.S. this year, where the brand slipped 7% to 57,000 cases in 2017. Despite that volume decline, the U.S. became Feuillatte’s largest export market last year, owing to tough conditions in the U.K., where the depreciation of the pound sterling has impacted the Champagne category.

“We have a dedicated team within Ste. Michelle, which is working hard in the on-trade,” says Juarez, noting that the by-the-glass segment will be “crucial” as Feuillatte looks to assert itself in the on-premise, which currently accounts for about 40% of the business. Among the brand’s on-premise initiatives is Champagne Gourmand, which pairs a glass of Feuillatte with three small appetizers or desserts on a branded plate. The Capital Grille, Marriott, and Morton’s The Steakhouse are among Feuillatte’s key on-trade accounts. Juarez adds that Feuillatte’s current off-premise goals include gaining greater uniformity in pricing in markets across the U.S. In recent years, pricing has been lower than targeted in New York in particular, he says.

Feuillatte has also been investing heavily in its visitor experience and production capabilities. Last year it opened a new visitor center outside Epernay where it’s expecting about 20,000 visitors on an annual business, part of a €25 million ($29m) investment that also included a new winery dedicated to reserve wines and a new headquarters. Moving forward, chef de caves Guillaume Roffiaen tells SND he’s intent on introducing more precision to each part of the winemaking process to improve quality and consistency. Roffiaen joined Feuillatte from Champagne Drappier in 2014 and was named chef de caves in February.—Daniel Marsteller

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