IT’S HARD TO GET A CLEAR PICTURE OF THE VOLUME of champagne that goes through the travel retail sector. The Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) itself stopped compiling figures for this sector in 2014 due to the difficulty in getting accurate and complete information from the major houses, who don’t necessarily keep them separately from domestic sales in the countries involved. The volume the CIVC gives for 2013 is 3,778,708 bottles, which is down just over a million bottles on the previous year.
If we treat travel retail as a whole as if it were a country, this would put it somewhere between Spain – the ninth largest export market for champagne, which accounted for shipments of 3.07m bottles in 2013 and 3.42m in 2014 – and Switzerland, the eighth largest, where 5.14m bottles were shipped in 2013, rising to 5.55m in 2014.
Before the whole champagne market took a tumble in 2008, travel retail was only just below 5m bottles and a lot closer to Switzerland (6.07m bottles in 2007) in volume. Lanson export manager Edouard de Boissieu says that, according to IWSR, this sector grew in 2014 and stands at around 5m bottles.
However, while this volume is significant enough to make travel retail interesting to all the major players, the importance of this sector is not about volume, it’s much more about image and visibility. And travel retail has, over the years, been relatively immune to the ebb and flow in demand commonly seen in most individual domestic markets. The number of people moving through the busiest hubs around the world doesn’t change that much each year. It’s a resilient market with an attractive concentration of the high-spending consumers the Champenois are chasing all around the world.
As in the world’s leading domestic markets, the largest player is Moët Hennessy with the two biggest selling brands – Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot – dominant, plus the prestige lines from Krug and Dom Pérignon.
Managing director of Moët Hennessy Global Travel Retail, Donatienne de Fontaines-Guillaume, says the group adopts a worldwide approach for this singular sector, which “we customise regionally, to make it more exciting for consumers”. Moët Hennessy has also raised its game in targeting those travelling in and out of France, particularly through Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
“With brands such as Moët, Ruinart, Krug, Veuve Clicquot and Dom Pérignon we have the ‘jewels of Champagne’ and we want to be showing these off in the best possible environment for visitors to France.
“We are not only targeting a French audience, the travelling consumer is global,” says de Fontaines-Guillaume.
To this end Moët Hennessy opened a single boutique in September 2014 in partnership with Aéroport de Paris and LS Travel Retail, located to catch travellers coming through the important terminal 2E Gate K. Stores for Cartier, Hermes and Dior are all nearby.
This boutique outlet sets out to create a real sense of theatre, an idea for the uninitiated of what it would be like to visit the cellars of the champagne houses in Reims (Clicquot, Krug and Ruinart) and Epernay (Moët).