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Jobs to go at Piper-Heidsieck

Champagne Piper-Heidsieck is set to cull its production workforce following a drop in sales of 46% in 2009.

The Remy Cointreau-owned house announced it is considering cutting its work force by 25%, blaming falls in sales up until the end of September 2009.

45 jobs are at stake, mostly in production, out of a work force of 160 in the Champagne capital of Reims. Trade unions say they cannot recall a similar crisis since 1992.

Overall, the house saw a drop in turnover of just under 45% in 2009, leading the company to decide to focus all efforts on it premium offerings in 2010.

“The crisis has done nothing but aggravate a structural difficulty,” said Anne-Charlotte Amory, president of Piper-Heidsieck.

“We are not competitive enough at entry level range, therefore we are going to re-centre exclusively on premium business, which is going to restrict our activity.”

Champagne Piper-Heidsieck owns 65 hectares of vineyard and produces 9 million bottles a year, of which 80% are exported. Its turnover in 2009 was €138m.

Rupert Millar, 05.02.10

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