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Belvédère to offload operational assets in Europe

France’s third largest drinks group Belvédère is to “offload” some of its operational assets in a bid to boost profits following a year of decline.

French drinks group Belvédère, maker of Marie Brizard liqueurs, has seen a 9.6% decline in sales
French drinks group Belvédère, maker of Marie Brizard liqueurs, has outlined an “ambitious” new strategic plan

Last month, the group, owner of Marie Brizard liqueurs, reported a net sales decline of 9.5% to €356.7 million in the year to 30 September.

Blaming a global slowdown in the wine and spirits sector, the company said it had expected a decline and that it continued to gain in market share, growing sales in Lithuania and Brazil.

However, Belvédère now claims it will be entering a “new chapter” in its history in 2015, with a new management team built around its CEO Jean-Noël Reynaud and new “ambitious” strategic plan.

The group has outlined its plans to “sell off non-strategic and operational loss-making assets”, predominantly wholesale and retail activities in Poland, where sales dropped 10% to September this year, and real estate assets in France, where sales declined 6%.

Meanwhile, the company will aim to “optimise” its operations through a range of initiatives, including increasing vodka production, reconfiguring route-to-market strategy in the US, and streamlining its storage facilities.

These initiatives are expected to help generate €20 to €30 million in EBITDA a year from 2018.

Belvédère will also focus on driving its Sobieski vodka brand to grow sales 14% by volume every year from 2014 to 2018 through increased advertising and “more efficient” route-to-market strategies.

William Peel blended Scotch whisky – the leading Scotch brand in France – will be launched Poland, Brazil and Lithuania, aiming to record 4% volume growth over the next four years.

Marie Brizard will aim to achieve average annual growth of 7% by volume between 2014 and 2018 through the “rejuvenation” of the brand’s image.

In terms of markets, Belvédère expects to achieve 2% volume growth in France during the period, and 12% in Poland by driving its value and standard brands. In the US, the group will aim to make Sobieski one of the top three imported vodka brands and expects to record 8% volume growth for its portfolio in Brazil.

“This strategic plan will see Belvédère increase its agility and establish itself as a challenger at the heart of the wines and spirits market,” said Jean-Noël Reynaud, CEO of Belvédère.

“We will start the 2015 financial year with clear objectives and a detailed roadmap. A new chapter is beginning, and we are enthusiastic and eager to work towards Belvédère’s success.”

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