Italian Campari seeks to join the French Champagne club

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MILAN (Reuters) – Campari beverage group (CPRI.MI) could become the first Italian player to enter the French champagne sector if it successfully concludes negotiations to buy the premium brand Lallier.

FILE PHOTO: Campari bottles are seen in a bar in downtown Milan, Italy, on September 4, 2018. Photo taken on September 4, 2018. REUTERS / Stefano Rellandini

The maker of the red aperitif Campari said on Friday that it had entered into exclusive negotiations with the French private company SARL FICOMA to buy 80% of the brand of champagne founded in 1906 in the city of Ay.

Campari shares finished 2.9% higher after the announcement, outpacing a 1.7% gain in the Milan benchmark .FTMIB.

Neighboring France and Italy are friendly rivals in the luxury goods and lifestyle sectors, which, like the rest of the economy, have suffered bottlenecks to curb the spread of the new coronavirus.

The French drink group Pernod Ricard (PERP.PA) announced in March the acquisition of 50% of the small Italian beverage maker Italicus, which some analysts considered an attempt to challenge Campari’s success in the appetizer category.

Last year, Italicus achieved sales of 3 million euros (3.20 million dollars).

Champagne Lallier sold around 1 million bottles in 2019, including nearly 700,000 from Lallier, Campari said without disclosing the financial details of the deal being negotiated.

He said he was aiming to buy the entire business in the medium term and become “the first Italian player in the Champagne category”.

Italy has a particularly strong tradition of socializing around drinks in the early evening. Part of the consumption went from bars to homes during the lockout, as Italians use social media to drink aperitifs with virtual friends or have cocktails delivered to their apartments.

Campari bought the French liqueur Grand Marnier in 2016 and began selling at the end of last year through its own company on the market in France.

If successful, the new agreement will allow Campari to strengthen its critical mass on the French market, which represented 2.2% of the group’s total sales for 1.84 billion euros ($ 2 billion) last year. .

The scope of the agreement includes the Lallier brand and other champagne brands owned by the target company, associated stocks, real estate assets, including vineyards owned and operated, and production facilities, said Campari.

Report by Francesca Landini; edited by Barbara Lewis

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.

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