Champagne house Piper-Heidsieck is to cut a quarter of its workforce in Reims.
The house, a subsidiary of Rémy-Cointreau, announced the redundancies last Friday.
A total of 45 jobs, mainly in production, will be slashed from the 160 employees.
The news came as official industry figures showed that global Champagne sales fell 9% by volume in 2009 compared to 2008, although UK and French supermarkets had reported a rise in revenues from Champagne sales in recent months.
In a statement, Piper-Heidsieck president Anne Charlotte Amory acknowledged that the recession had hit sales hard and said that the company would now focus its production on prestige, special cuvee Champagnes.
‘Piper-Heidsieck is the first to be badly hit by the crisis. The last layoffs date back to 1992. It really is quite hard,’ William Mailly, a representative from the company said.
Last month Rémy-Cointreau reported a 4.5% drop in sales in the first nine months of 2009, after strong demand for Cognac in Asia failed to offset falling Champagne sales for the company.
Written by James Lawrence