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The relative importance of Houses in terms of size

A handful of market leaders have always coexisted alongside a wealth of family-owned Houses

There’s a rumour resurfaces from time to time that the Champagne Houses are inexorably drifting towards greater concentration. The Union des Maisons de Champagne insists that this is an illusion, and has the figures to prove it.

Interview by James Blaques Champagne Viticole 06/2002
Updated February 2010

C.V.: Have we seen a more marked concentration among the Champagne Houses in recent years?
Yves Lombard: No, this rumour is simply a preconceived notion that just goes to show our resistant we all are to change! On the contrary, the chart below (cf diagram) shows that the business pattern has changed very little in the past 15 years.

C.V.: The figures do seem to confirm however that a mere handful of Houses account for the bulk of business activity ...
Y.L.: This was always so and in no way suggests any upward trend. For centuries now, the Champagne AOC has been blessed with a number of prestigious "engines" that in promoting their own brands have also promoted the entire appellation, rapidly spreading its name around the world. No other French wine region can claim as much, and Champagne is widely envied in this respect.

C.V.: As Houses lose their family-owned character, aren’t they increasingly likely to be run increasingly by outside directors
Y.L: That’s another preconceived idea. Changes of ownership have not reduced the number of family-owned Houses, which remain as dynamic and profitable as ever!

The overwhelming majority of UMC council members are Champagne personalities who run their own Houses and have often brought them success in the past 20 years. We forget too quickly that groups who settled in Champagne like Racke and BSN then sold their Houses back to the Champenois. Examples include Besserat de Bellefon, Bricout, Heidsieck & C° Monopole, Lanson Pommery — all of which have returned to family hands.
C.V.: Are the commercial objectives of big groups compatible with the interests of the Champenois?
Y.L: Obviously a business group has to reward its shareholders, and to do that, it must make sure that the House remains prosperous. That means enhancing the House’s heritage: promoting the brand, maintaining premium prices, expanding its market share etc. With that in mind, group-owned Houses must give their customers nothing but the best — top-notch products that justify premium pricing. That objective can only be achieved by promoting the whole of the Champagne appellation along with the brand. It has been this way since the earliest days of the Champagne AOC: it’s the promotion of brands that drives the promotion of the AOC, and that remains the case today.

Relative scale of Houses comprising the membership of the UMC the 10 leading groups the next 10 the next 60
2015 Turnover 85 % 11 % 4 %
Bottles 80 % 15 % 5 %
Volume exported 86 % 10 % 4 %
2014 Turnover 81 % 14 % 5 %
Bottles 81 % 11 % 5 %
Volume exported 84 % 12 % 4 %
2013 Turnover 84 % 12 % 4 %
Bottles 81 % 14 % 5 %
Volume exported 85 % 11 % 4 %
2012 Turnover 84 % 12 % 4 %
Bottles 80 % 14 % 6 %
Volume exported 86 % 11 % 3 %
2011 Turnover 84 % 12 % 4 %
Bottles 81 % 14 % 5 %
Volume exported 86 % 11 % 3 %
2010 Turnover 85 % 12 % 3 %
Bottles 82 % 13 % 5 %
Volume exported 86 % 10 % 4 %
2009 Turnover 82 % 14 % 4 %
Bottles 80 % 15 % 5 %
Volume exported 85 % 11 % 4 %
2008 Turnover 85 % 11 % 4 %
Bottles 83 % 12 % 5 %
Volume exported 86 % 10 % 4 %
2007 Turnover 84 % 12 % 4 %
Bottles 82 % 14 % 4 %
Volume exported 84 % 11 % 4 %
2006 Turnover 84 % 12 % 4 %
Bottles 82 % 14 % 4 %
Volume exported 86 % 10 % 4 %
2005 Turnover 84 % 12 % 4 %
Bottles 82 % 14 % 4 %
Volume exported 86 % 10 % 4 %
1995 Turnover 81 % 11 % 8 %
Bottles 78 % 12 % 10 %
Volume exported 84 % 9 % 7 %
1990 Turnover 84 % 9 % 7 %
Bottles 82 % 10 % 8 %
Volume exported 88 % 7 % 5 %

The Champagne Houses: A few facts and figures

The leaders
Some 10 "locomotive" groups have always represented the bulk of activity: turnover, volume of shipments, exports.

The "small" Houses
Some 60-70 other Houses are UMC members and serve as a breeding ground for the large Houses of the future.

The medium-sized Houses
Behind the leaders are 10 medium-sized Houses (or groups) that are economically stable and/or growing. Contrary to general opinion, their relative significance is increasing and they remain family-run.

The récoltants-négociants (grower-producers)
A further 200 négociants merchants are registered with the CIVC but not members of the UMC. These are often récoltants (growers) looking to expand while retaining their much-valued independence.

What is a group?
Several Houses majority-owned by a common owner.