Laurent Reinteau – Keep it simple

Since taking over at Champagne Jacquart, Laurent Reinteau has focused on streamlining the brand and increasing value in key markets. And he’s been quick about it

Laurent Reinteau

COMING FROM the mighty, upmarket and yellow-daubed house of Veuve Clicquot, Laurent Reinteau, managing director of Jacquart since summertime 2009, doubtless knows a thing or two about building brands, and his move – almost across the street – to the latter label’s newly restored 18th century headquarters in Reims, says as much about Jacquart’s ambitions as it does about Reinteau’s belief in its potential. Speaking at the London International Wine Fair, it’s certainly clear that Reinteau, who comes with 15 years’ experience with the famous fizz, preceded by a brief stint in Bordeaux as a student, has no doubt about what direction his new label should take. Not only that, he has wasted no time in implementing a strategy.

In the short period he has headed Jacquart, Reinteau has already overseen an acquisition, a major agency change, a winemaker appointment and a total repackage – complete with a range revision. It’s been a swift but seemingly smooth shift in gears for the house, all with the intention of taking Jacquart upwards in terms of image and price.

Looking back, Reinteau, who is an engaging and seemingly gentle personality with perfect English, reminds that his first major task was handling the acquisition of Montaudon Champagne, which Moët Hennessy had bought in December 2008, stripped off its land and contracts, before selling the name to Alliance Champagne, Jacquart’s parent company (see box, next page), just before Christmas last year.

While LVMH wanted the vineyards, Alliance, with access to 2,400 hectares of Champagne – which accounts for 7% of the entire region – didn’t need the grapes. On the other hand, it did want a new name, primarily to take some of the promotional burden off Jacquart’s shoulders: within the Alliance group, Montaudon could be used to shift volume, allowing Jacquart to concentrate on improving its image and developing sales through the on-premise.

“It’s complementary for Jacquart,” says Reinteau of Montaudon, “because Jacquart is more premium with a more on-trade focus, while Montaudon is more retail focused.” Also, the new label’s main market is France, and Reinteau sees an opportunity to raise its international presence. “Globally we plan to double its volume within five years, mainly in France, but also in the UK, Germany and a few other markets,” he explains.

At the same time, Reinteau repositioned Jacquart in the UK, appointing on-trade specialist Enotria as exclusive agent, a handover that was complete by the end of 2010. As he said at the time: “Champagne Jacquart has a clear vision for strengthening its premium status especially in the on-trade and wine specialists. We believe that Enotria is the perfect partner to achieve our ambitions.” Speaking more recently, he explains: “Jacquart has a value strategy, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be volume development. If you are successful with your brand proposition you can grow both in volume and value. But value is the priority with Jacquart.”

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