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Champagne discounting will damage image for years

Deep discounting by Champagne producers is 'very dangerous' if the region wants to maintain its long-term health, a senior Champagne academic has said.

The Champagne region anticipated selling just 265m bottles in 2009 but outperformed expectations, announcing sales of 295m bottles two weeks ago.

But Dr Steve Charters, Professor of Champagne at the Reims Management School told decanter.com those figures only appeared so healthy because of deep discounting in the domestic market.

‘Sales in France have held up well because you can can now buy it at less than 10 euro in the supermarkets. If your response to a crisis is to reduce prices that is very dangerous,’ he said.

In December, French consumers could buy Laurent-Perrier’s Jeanmaire brand, Comte de Noiron, Hubert de Claminge and Champagne Paul Breteuil for less than 10 euros.

‘The consumer will start to think, do I need to pay this much for Champagne?’ Charters added.

Carole Duval-Leroy, president of Champagne Duval-Leroy, has already attacked low-priced Champagne, claiming it would ‘need years to repair the damage done’ to the region’s premium image.

While Charters predicts Champagne sales will recover and it is likely demand will exceed supply once more, he said there will be a crisis when sales will not recover. ‘There will come a time when they get out of the blip but they will plateau and may start to come down.’

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Written by Rebecca Gibb

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