On the 17th December an important meeting took place in the town hall of Jonzac between the Mayor – Claude Belot, various heads of Unicognac and the investment company, C&D International.
Watched over by portraits of historic figures such as Geoffrey de Sainte-Maure and Viviane de Polignac, the outcome of the meeting was for Unicognac to further its reach into China, promoting not only Cognac, but also Pineau and local wines of the surrounding region.
President of Unicognac, Michel Villemin, spoke about how this deal had come about. He said that Jules Gautret Cognac had now been available in China for about a year via C&D International. The company has a powerful sales force and distribution network that will aid Unicognac in advancing their business.
China is now the third largest market in the world for sales of cognac – after the USA and Singapore – with sales reaching almost 11% of the local market. These sales have achieved a massive growth in a relatively small amount of time. In 2003, only two million bottles of Cognac were sold in China, as opposed to current figures of over seventeen million.
C&D International invest in a wide variety of products – from telecommunications and housing, through to alcohol and spirits. From its beginnings in December 1980, the company floated on the Shanghai Stock Exchange in June 1998 and now has a turnover of five billion euros. It is the largest company in the Fujian Province of China, has over six hundred distributors and over three thousand employees.
Michel Villemin understands exactly how important the Asian market is for cognac. A sales manager has been recruited specifically for this market – Jian Yu – who will be based in Shanghai. The ideal choice – she has French citizenship, speaks fluent Chinese and English.
It was agreed that the Charente-Maritime region of France is ideally located, being as it is home to various companies such as Hennessey and Martell, along with the various wines produced in the area. Together, Unicognac and C&D International can develop the trade routes between France and China.
They aim to target Chinese consumers who may not necessarily have the same tastes as Westerners, and to create particular blends and vintages. For example, the vodka ‘Grey Goose,’ produced in Cognac, has proved to be a hit in the US. To this end, Jules Gautret has produced a cognac specifically for the Chinese Market called ‘Blue Swan.’
This can only be a good thing for both France and China. With such specific marketing being targeted, the export of alcohol to China is only set to rise.