Champagne Jacquart is eyeing acquisitions as it seeks to become a bigger international player.
Jacquart is looking for possible buys in the Champagne region and expects opportunities to come its way in the next couple of years.
"There's a consolidation process going on in Champagne," Jacquart's MD, Laurent Reintau, told Harpers at the London International Wine Fair this week. "We want to be prepared for that," he said.
The group and its parent arm, the Champagne Alliance cooperative, have already shown their desire to expand, having acquired Montaudon Champagne from Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton in 2010. But, Jacquart may require more vineyards and stock as it seeks to expand into the US and Asia.
While the UK and Germany remain the firm's key export markets, volume sales of its Champagne to Japan are up 35% year-to-date, according to Reinteau. "Asia is becoming significant and is seeing significant growth," he said, adding that Jacquart is also making inroads in the "magic triangle" of Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong.
However, Reinteau said that the company will not be rushed into expansion. "We know it will take time," he said. In 2011, Jacquart sold 3m bottles of Champagne, of which 55% was exported.
Reinteau said that, alongside emerging markets, he is pleased with his firm's efforts to expand distribution in high-end bars and independent retailers in the UK over the past year, despite lower sales for the overall Champagne sector. Distribution and premium positioning are key in the UK, he said. "The UK is still a major market for Champagne, but we can't expect big growth."