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Winegrowers in charge of excellent Champagnes

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“The winegrowers who took charge of their own value creation and founded this company in 1997 are still the owners of the vineyards, the wineries and cellars and of the three different brands Jacquart, Montaudon and Devaux,” explains Adrien Combet, who was appointed Managing Director of Jacquart & Associés Distribution SAS in November 2017, now based in Reims.

The wineries and cellars of Champagne Jacquart are located across the Champagne region in Épernay and Aÿ, Chateau-Thierry and Bar-sur-Seine. In each of these towns, where the three main Champagne cooperative organizations are based, one of the winegrowers is elected President, and the three Presidents in turn named three CEOs who recruited the Managing Director of Champagne Jacquart.

Mr. Combet is a specialist in food and beverages, and contributed to the development of the international brands of the Danone Group and the LVMH Group. “It is important for me to have value creation for every stakeholder of the company, and I was happy to join a company that is smaller and can respond quite quickly to changes in societies and in the demand across the world,” he says.

At Champagne Jacquart, 73 people take care of marketing, sales and finance, to distribute a volume which, in 2017, increased by 9% vs. 2016 and a turnover which increased by more than 13% vs. 2016 to reach 82 million EUR in 2017. The main business activities are led from France, but the company also has an office in Germany and several employees who work from their homes in the US, the UK and Japan.

In addition, it cooperates with importers or distributors to reach other international markets. “This is an organization by Champagne Jacquart people for Champagne Jacquart consumers. Every owner and every employee is involved and engaged to a very high degree because they work on behalf of their very own product,” Mr. Combet adds.

Champagne Jacquart is the organization’s major brand. The Rosé version of the quite recent prestige cuvee Alpha was introduced in September 2017. Cuvée Alpha Rosé is an exclusive Champagne that is made from only the best grapes and from a selection of the best Crus of the Champagne region.

In essence, Champagne is a blend of different grape varieties that may differ in style and quality. The company mostly uses Grands Crus or Premiers Crus to deliver high-quality Champagne. These are Chardonnay grapes, as well as Pinot Noir and Meunier.

“The issue in Champagne production is always how to get large enough quantities of high-quality grapes to make a good product that supplies the strong demand,” explains Mr. Combet. “Having as many winegrowers in our company as we do definitely helps to achieve this.”

The harvested volume of grapes is stable year on year. This means Mr. Combet and his team are looking to develop an even higher quality per acre while protecting biodiversity in the region and using natural ways to protect the grapes, rather than pesticides.

Fortunately, climate change is currently having a positive impact on the quality of its products. While the regulated standard in the region is to age Champagne wines for 15 months, Champagne Jacquart ages its wines for three to four years for non-vintage, and its vintages for more than five years. The brands Champagne Jacquart, Champagne Montaudon and Champagne Devaux are already recognized for their value for money.

“We are well established in the industry, especially among clients from the gastronomy sector,” Mr. Combet enthuses. “Chefs from Michelin star restaurants, for example, count on our brands.” Clients of the company include hotels, bars, restaurants, and mass retail operators in 40 markets worldwide. The aim is to introduce the Champagne brands into another ten markets in 2018.

With respect to marketing, Jacquart & Associés Distribution SAS takes a classic communication approach, with marketing materials such as branded ice buckets or glasses, and advertising campaigns in magazines and newspapers.

Social media activities are a focus for 2018 since they offer a chance of finding new consumers that can only be found there. “What we want to bring to consumers is the value we live here every day: the feeling of sincere friendship that people have while sharing a glass of wine or Champagne, moments of small celebrations of the day,” Mr. Combet observes.

The sales figures in the Champagne sector show that values are increasing while volumes are stabilizing. The firm’s future will be successful if its brands are recognizable for consumers at their significant quality level. “Champagne Jacquart is to be taken by consumers as it is: classic and high quality, but not high luxury per se. Young people need a Champagne that fits into their world, so we build the brand in a way that allows consumers to enjoy it however they would like. Brands need to be agile because rules are changing every day.”

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