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New strategy pays off for Marie Brizard

The recently renamed Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits has reported a 4.5% sales increase for the first half of 2015 after implementing a new strategic plan.

The French group, formerly known as Belvédère, looks set to reverse its -4.1% decline last year, which was primarily attributed to the decision to abandon several “non strategic or not very profitable” distribution contracts, third party vodkas and the sale of its Danzka vodka brand.

Although its performance was flat during the first quarter of 2015, a revival during the second quarter saw Marie Brizard’s net sales for the first half reached €222.7 million, boosted in particular by Poland and the US.

The group linked this bounceback to its “BiG 2018” strategic plan, which kicked off at the start of 2015. Among the key steps taken so far has been the creation of an executive committee “consisting of experts from the spirits sector with 
experience in turning around and growing companies.”

Other measures taken include projects to upgrade vodka production facilities in Lithuania and Poland, the renegotiation of procurement and bottle-sourcing contracts, the sale of Polish retail chain Galerie Alkoholi and its 39 outlets to Carrefour, and the broadened distribution of its portfolio into new markets.

Marie Brizard’s largest market remains its native France, which accounted for €96.9m of the group’s first half sales. However a sluggish start to the year saw this market lag -1.3% behind its performance over the same six-month period a year ago.

There was a brighter picture from the group’s second largest market Poland, which was responsible for much of Marie Brizard’s 2014 woes. Net sales rose 4.5% for the first half of this year, boosted by strengthened distribution for Krupnik vodka.

The company anticipated further growth from the Polish market this year thanks to the recent launch here of its William Peel blended Scotch whisky and Fruits and Wine brand, the latter playing a key role in the growing trend across several markets for fruit flavoured wine.

There were also positive signs from the US, where Marie Brizard’s new strategic plan has seen it focus investment on nine “key states”. Sales within these selected states rose by 13.1% compared with 2014, while net sales for the US as a whole during the first half rose by 17.2% to hit €9.1m.

Jean-Noël Reynaud, CEO of Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits, hailed these latest results as a vindication of the company’s revised focus. “Following a first quarter when we were putting the various elements of BiG 2018 in place, the second quarter confirmed the pertinence of our strategy,” he commented.

“We know our destination and are all determined to reach it together,” continued Reynaud. “The developments that took place during the first half of 2015 mean that we can address these challenges full of confidence, especially as new opportunities have resulted from the reorganisation of our shareholding structure. It is now up to us to define and implement them.”

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