Each of our products is tied to a particular piece of land. Our staff work this land to extract its greatest potential. And the value of this work is not fully revealed until many years later. Forged by our people, this link connects the end customer to the terroir and embodies the essence and greatness of our calling.
In 2015/16, Cognac achieved its best ever sales worldwide with more than 14 million cases sold in total across all brands and markets. Our Rémy Martin Cognacs contributed to these results, also hitting a record high. For the Rémy Cointreau group, the most striking development is undoubtedly the radical change in our global markets, which have swung from Asia towards North America and Africa. The anticipation of another decrease in sales in China this year prompted us to invest more in other countries.
Excellent sales for our brands in the USA and the rise of middle-class consumers of our products in African countries have allowed us to bolster and even develop our global turnover.
Finally, 2015/16 was the first year that we properly implemented our new group strategy which is now set to govern our future: that of establishing ourselves as the world leader in exceptional spirits. The desire to make a point of our luxury status is completely in tune with the core character of every one of our brands and a means of re-establishing a relationship with our customers. With these passionate and demanding connoisseurs in mind, our branding is sincere, transparent, premium and authentic.
How would you appraise this year's efforts?
This year has been crucial on a strategic level. We are more aware of the situation on the ground and we listen more to the customers who buy and enjoy our products. We've simplified our organization and put our focus on marketing which is better and more frequently communicated. It's a little early to report back but the wheels are turning.
How does this action fit into the upgrading of your brand portfolio?
Right now, by deliberately focusing on the brands and products already in the premium segment such as Rémy Martin Club in Asia, 1738 Accord Royal in North America and Octomore in Europe. And soon we will be offering new, exceptional products such as special ages and blends, and all these things take time.
What distinction do you make in your portfolio between the exceptional spirits and the iconic brands?
The exceptional spirits are sold at prices upwards of 50 dollars and the vast majority of our brands comprise some such products. Only Cointreau is not positioned at this price range. But it is a cut above: it is the market benchmark and leader in the orange liqueur segment.
How do you see future customer relations?
We favor direct communications with our customers, who are always looking for advice, guidance and emotion. So, with Louis XIII, we can even afford to have a direct and personal relationship. Travel Retail is also well suited to this approach. In Duty Free stores where customers have time, the sales advisor takes the lead role and it is our job to give them what they need. Finally, the digital world, which is particularly effective in terms of getting to know our customers and talking to them, is now an absolute priority.
Would you like to develop your distribution network?
This development goes without saying and our brands are easily keeping pace with current trends. The on-trade is leaning unanimously towards a proliferation of specialist bars and cocktail bars. We are already in a very good position here with brands such as Rémy Martin and Cointreau and our premium positioning is exactly what these places are looking for in their search for authenticity. In the off-trade, our focus is selective distribution with some of our products put aside for specialized merchants. And what we may appear to lose in volume is more than offset by the increase in turnover.
Will your HR strategy be overhauled?
Staff have always been in the lead role at Rémy Cointreau, partly because it has always been a family business and partly because our products are the result of an encounter between people, know-how and terroir. This year, the group has made the strategic decision to create a Talent Management structure tasked with supporting group employees in fulfilling their career potential and promoting internal transfers and international links. I see this as an essential process and one in which I am personally very involved.
How would you sum up the strategic challenges for Rémy Cointreau over the next five years?
First and foremost, to develop our major markets such as North America, China and part of Europe. We must also activate our growth drivers in non-Chinese Asia, Latin America, Africa and Russia. If we're to succeed, we need to take the floor and the digital world is an excellent way to do so. We also need to put our focus on the on-trade by underlining what makes us unique and strengthening our ties with mixologists. It's our job to do what needs to be done!
The medium-term Rémy Cointreau strategy is clear: To become the world leader in exceptional spirits.
Each brand has a specific task within the group portfolio and must adapt its business model to this particular goal in terms of product, distribution and communications. Growth drivers vary among the brands but all seek to reinforce the emotional bond with their customers. To achieve this, we must develop a direct, personal link through increased media and digital investment, educate during private events led by our brand ambassadors, and foster loyalty through the development of specific schemes and CRM.
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