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Brexit blamed for tumbling Champagne sales

Champagne sales in the UK have taken a tumble over the last year, with the Brexit vote being blamed for a 14% fall in value sales of the sparkler.

While the UK remains Champagne’s number one export market by volume, sales dropped by 8.7% in 2016 to 31.2 million bottles. Value sales meanwhile were even worse hit, plunging by 14% to £381 million.

The CIVC blamed Champagne’s poor performance in the UK on the fall in the value of the pound in the wake of the Brexit vote last June, when the sterling fell to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985.

The CIVC also cited a drop in discounted, own-label Champagne in supermarkets as a reason for deflated sales in the UK last year.

“As UK shoppers walk away from cut-price Champagne, habits are changing in the UK, and it’s going the way the Champenois have long said it should go,” the CIVC said in a statement.

“Aggressive discounting tactics are no longer effective to attract customers and boost the volume of Champagne sales. This will please the Champenois, who have long sought to resist the lure of sales volume, with the risk that this poses for Champagne’s global market position,” it added.

“Positive value is forever the defining objective for Champagne. Volume is nice but, for the good of Champagne, it must always take second place,” Champagne Bureau director Françoise Peretti said.

“It seems that UK customers are no longer seduced by the cut-price propositions but their appetite for premium-priced Champagnes is plainly growing with rosé and prestige cuvées gathering momentum.

“We should not be surprised. Champagne was always meant to be at the pinnacle. What we see here is a reinforcement of that special status in the minds of its most loyal customers,” she added.

Rosé Champagne sales have risen 25% in value in the UK since 2010, while volume sales of prestige cuvées surged 88% over the same period.

For an in-depth look at the Champagne category, pick up a copy of the drinks business’ annual Champagne report at the annual CIVC tasting in London next Wednesday 29 March.

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