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Laurent Perrier Sees Difficult 2012 for Champagne Orders

Laurent-Perrier champagne waits to be served at The Dorchester Grill in London. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg News
Laurent-Perrier champagne waits to be served at The Dorchester Grill in London. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg News

Laurent Perrier SA, the maker of Grand Siecle champagne, said orders may deteriorate in 2012 as shipments of the sparkling wine slow in the last two months of this year, Chief Financial Officer Etienne Auriau said.

Demand for Tours-Sur-Marne, France-based Laurent Perrier’s champagne “is dynamic but without doubt 2012 will be more difficult,” Auriau said in a phone interview. “Consumption is very tied to the economic situation.”

Champagne volumes are set to climb as much as 2.6 percent to 328 million bottles in 2011, Auriau said. While shipments may increase 1.3 percent in November and December compared to last year, according to Auriau’s forecast, the annual estimate is below an industry peak in 2007 and follows 3.5 percent growth in the first 10 months of the year, according to industry group Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne.

Laurent Perrier fell 1.7 percent to 71.56 euros in Paris trading. The shares have fallen 11 percent this year, giving the maker of the Salon, Delamotte and Champagne de Castellane brands a market value of 425.5 million euros ($555 million.)

Entry-level and top-of-the-range champagnes are the most popular, said Fabien Hyon, CEO of 1855, a Paris-based wine Internet retailer in an interview.

Mid-Range Bubbly

“It’s more in the middle that it’s harder to sell at the moment,” the CEO said, adding that 1855’s champagne sales were up 15 percent on last year.

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, the world’s largest champagne maker, reported a 6 percent increase in volumes at the end of September on a comparable basis, slowing from a 10 percent gain in the first half. While consumer demand remains robust, LVMH is watching the levels of inventories at retailers, the maker of the Moet, Veuve Clicquot and Dom Perignon brands said in October.

American and Japanese drinkers may compensate for any slowdown in Europe as Laurent Perrier exports three-quarters of its champagne, Auriau said. First-half net income more than tripled to 9.49 million euros from a year earlier driven by demand for premium champagne, Laurent Perrier said last month.

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