Champagne group Laurent-Perrier last week announced sales of €137.1 million for the first nine months of 2002, a 12.5 per cent increase on sales in the same period a year earlier.
The company said that volume increases accounted for 10.5 per cent of the rise, while an improvement in product mix accounted for a further 3 per cent. The final growth figure was also pegged back 1 per cent by currency exchange rates.
Laurent-Perrier said that the recovery in the Champagne sector after two poor years due to massive overstocking for the Millennium had been a major factor in the improvement, although there were also significant non-recurring sales during the period.
Improving the product mix - essentially a shift towards higher value products - was also welcome, the company said, especially as it came at a time of fierce price competition between Champagne groups.
Sales for the year as a whole are expected to rise by around 5-10 per cent, the company said, in line with the market as a whole.
Initial estimates suggest that sales for calendar year 2002 of around 285-290 million bottles will be some 8-10 per cent higher than in 2001, although roughly in line with those of 1998, the last 'realistic' year of sales before the Millennium effect. "If the market now appears to have finally recovered, there is little sign of any rapid expansion," the company noted.
But it is to drive growth that Laurent-Perrier has focused its efforts on increasing the value of its products over the last few years. "Our policy will be to control distribution, to build sales of our four complementary brands, to develop a range of high quality wines and to invest in both organic and external growth," the company said.
Laurent-Perrier's four main brands are Laurent-Perrier, Salon, Delamotte and Vicomte de Castellane.