Jean-Marie Laborde, Chief Executive Officer - Dominique Hériard Dubreuil, Chairman
Validity of upmarket positioning
Last year was an excellent financial year confirming the course of action followed for many years : that of a long-term value strategy, by focusing our brands on upmarket segments, a motivated distribution network and innovation inspired by an in-depth knowledge of our markets. The results are evident. Rémy Cointreau achieved consolidated sales of €1.026.1 billion, an increase of 13% and a 24.4% growth in operating profit. These performances are a repeat, albeit of a greater magnitude, of those recorded in the two previous years.
In Asia, America and also in Europe where the economic climate differed from one market to another, our brands have been solid growth. At the forefront of buoyant markets, Asia continues to be a growth driver. The appetite that Chinese consumers have shown for upmarket and premium cognacs explains the success of Rémy Martin Fines Champagnes and Louis XIII Grande Champagne, which represent a significant portion of sales in this country. Similarly, Vietnam, Indonesia and other countries in South-East Asia are emerging as significant new sources of growth in which we will continue to invest. The Japanese market remained difficult; however, we regard this as a strategic market and we will be persistent in maintaining a presence there.
One of the highlights of the year was the US market’s substantial recovery, paving the way for a very optimistic outlook for growth, for the performance of our liqueurs and for the success of one of our bold creations, Rémy Martin V, which should benefit from the American people’s appetite for novel flavours in cocktails. Another point of great satisfaction was the continued strong growth in Travel Retail and the remarkable increase in sales in Russia: this market is breaking all records, boosted by the younger generation’s taste for luxury products.
Alongside cognac, which makes up 60% of sales, our liqueurs and spirits have enjoyed renewed momentum: Cointreau and Cointreau Black, launched recently in North and South America, Mount Gay Rum, the rum of choice for yachtsmen, Metaxa in Central European countries, etc. Again, this momentum was achieved by means of an aggressive strategy of moving our products upmarket and the vitality of our brands in the field.
Understanding the passage of time
The results are evident and, combined with a debt reduction policy and a share buyback programme, they have enhanced our options and enable us to plan for an even more ambitious future. New markets are opening up to us. We are also monitoring acquisition opportunities, as we deem appropriate. We will not, however, compromise on quality. Our roots as winemakers continually remind us that we are still craftsmen who must understand the relentless passage of time: that which shapes the authenticity of the centuries-old vineyards and the aroma of the eaux-de-vie; that which allows our cellar masters, with their collective expertise, to create the most valuable blends and that which is also needed to gradually teach those who love our products to appreciate their subtlety. Time is our greatest ally. In the search for perfection, it forces us to be vigilant at all times and to remain constantly alert. Particularly in our most glorious moments, we must maintain the spirit of a challenger.