Christophe Juárez: “Politics has favored the consumption of champagne in Spain” | Fortune

He is an expert in the luxury and wine industry. He was recently in Madrid to present Abelé 1757 wines to restaurants, distributors and clients, the oldest winery in Champagne, founded by Henri Abelé, and which recently, after being owned by Freixenet, was acquired by the cooperative Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte, in front of which is. Christophe Juarez (Paris, 1959) is an expert in the luxury and wine industries. Graduated in Business Management from the University of Paris-Dauphine, he completed his postgraduate studies in corporate governance at the French Institute of Management in 2009. He has worked in the luxury markets in Europe, the United States and Asia.

It started at Chanel, at the fashion division between 1984 and 1996, and in the marketing department of International Fragrances, where he participated in the launch of fragrances, such as Egoiste and Allure. Later he joined the Spanish subsidiary of the cosmetics firm Bourjois as CEO, a position he held until 1998. And later he became executive vice president of international development in the luxury division of the L’Oréal group, in which he launched, among others, the range of Armani cosmetics.

In 2001 he joined the Richemont group, as Senior Vice President of Cartier’s fragrance division. In 2003 he joined the Domaine Laroche winery, where he remained as CEO until 2009. Two years later he was appointed CEO of the French cognac firm H. Mounier. To talk about your new trajectory in the world of champagne, he has chosen a suite at the Four Seasons hotel in Madrid.

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What is the objective of your trip to Spain?

Basically, to promote the change of third lived with the Abelé brand, which we bought from Freixenet three years ago. We have made a design change, a reform in the winery for our clients, and above all we have invested to make the brand the top of the Nicolas Feuillatte cooperative group. We are the third brand worldwide and the leader in France. The group sells a total of 11 million bottles and in 2019 had a turnover of 200 million euros, but the Abelé brand is much smaller, since the production is 300,000 bottles and has a turnover of 20 million euros. We want to put it in the premium range.

How has the pandemic affected you?

They have been difficult, but our goal is to grow, and have 5% of the champagne market within five years. Now we are at 3.8% share.

What does the Spanish market mean for you?

Spain is a wine-producing country, so it is easier to understand all the production processes and the technique. There is a part of the economy based on tourism, in the hospitality industry that is experiencing a moment of great fame, and it is time to delve into the Spanish market, where we now sell 25,000 bottles of Abelé and 35,000 bottles of Nicolas.

Has champagne traveled in Spain?

Luckily for us, the policy in Spain has favored the consumption of champagne, because people because of the problem of Catalonia did not want to drink cava. For this reason, the consumption of champagne has grown. In addition, champagne in restaurants in Spain is one of the cheapest in the world, due to lower margins. It is the differentiating point.

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More and more champagne brands are arriving in Spain.

It is a great challenge, because a very well-known brand of the LVMH group [se refiere a Moët & Chandon] it has half the market. And our objective is to be able to enter through the back door in the alternative hotel chains to the big brands, with a different positioning. Our wine has a marked style thanks to our blends with the Chardonnay grape.

Does it sell more than pinot noir?

Chardonnay is a historic grape, the great families of winemakers like to use it, even if they produce both. It is the great grape par excellence, considered the grape of the kings. Every quality house uses it.

Do you notice that now that it seems that everything is recovering, more champagne is consumed because of the desire to celebrate?

Our goal is to put champagne on the path of celebration, of the good times in life, and within a few years the consumption of wine will grow. Sommeliers go to great lengths to make it a gastronomic product as well. And every time the style of the champagnes is much more precise so that they can accompany any moment of enjoyment and celebration.

What is your differentiating element to attract the consumer?

It is an old brand, with a lot of work done in the hospitality business, we are a great alternative to the big brands. We have a good assembly and we like to see how the consumer discovers us. Our wines are aged between three and four years, and the high-end is ten years old.

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Are you comfortable working in the luxury sector?

Yes, because the important thing is the product, and for this you have to implement a strategy to see what can be done to achieve the highest level of quality. Luxury is a mix of tradition and innovation. Timing is very important and everything revolves around how it is managed. We do not go fast, luxury does not go fast, we do not seek immediate success. Everything is long term.

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