One of Europe’s largest sparkling wine producers, Henkell & Co. Group has bought a 60% stake in UK importer Copestick Murray.
Robin Copestick, co-founder & director of Copestick Murray
The main focus of the joint venture, which takes effect from 1 September, will be to develop the German-based firm’s Mionetto label into “a leading Prosecco brand in the UK.”
Highlighting the UK’s position as the biggest market for Prosecco outside Italy and one of the DOC’s fastest growing markets, Henkell CEO Dr Andreas Brokemper said: “The Mionetto brand gives us a leading Italian Prosecco brand with a long history and superlative quality.
“In the USA we have played an important role in shaping and creating the Prosecco trend and we are now the market leader. We are fully confident that the Copestick Murray team, together with our own sales organisation, will establish the Mionetto brand in the UK as well.”
Meanwhile Robin Copestick, who co-founded Copestick Murray in 2005, described the new partnership as “a perfect fit for our company.”
Although his firm has recently enjoyed “exponential” sales growth with its “I heart” range, which is now sold across four continents, Copestick acknowledged: “Sparkling wine is a growth category in the UK and up until now we were under-represented in this area.”
While Mionetto’s current UK distribution is focused on independent retailers and the on-trade – “and we definitely want that side of the business to grow”– he highlighted the growing number of Prosecco listings within the multiple retail sector as a sign of the “enormous” potential that remains for the sparkling wine category as a whole.
“Whether we create another style or brand for the UK off-trade will be determined in the next few months,” Copestick told the drinks business. However, he insisted that Mionetto will remain “at the quality level; it won’t be a price fighter.”
Copestick also pointed to the wider benefits of Henkell’s financial backing, which “will allow us to continue our remarkable growth.” Having established its own UK distribution company back in 2011, Henkell currently has subsidiaries in 20 different countries. In 2012 the group sold 19.9 million nine-litre cases of sparkling wine, still wine and spirits across its 90 export markets worldwide.
Although the initial focus is on Mionetto, he indicated the possibility of further sparkling wine projects thanks to Henkell’s ownership of Champagne, Cava and Sekt brands. “In Germany Henkell is a market leader with its German sparkling wine,” remarked Copestick. “It’s not really an area that the UK has really got behind but the cost, styles and efficiencies are just right for the UK.”
Despite attributing the rise of the sparkling wine category and Prosecco in particular to the recession, he suggested: “I sort of get the feeling now that people are used to drinking sparkling wine on a more regular basis as it’s so approachable and affordable.” Rather than sparkling wine stealing sales from Champagne, which he described as “more of a luxury choice”, Copestick told db “I think it may be growing at the expense of still wine.”