French Seek to Boost Armenian Brandy Sales in New Marketing Push

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–France’s Pernod Ricard–will spend $5 million on a new marketing strategy aimed at reversing a drastic fall in Armenian brandy sales following the Russian economic crisis–company executives said on Friday.

Jean-Francois Roucou–the CEO of the Yerevan Brandy Company–owned by the French group–said the money will be mainly spent on an aggressive advertising campaign in Russia and other ex-Soviet republics – the Yerevan Brandy Company’s main market. Roucou and other top executives told a news conference that exports of Armenian brandy have shrunk by more than one half since financial crisis hit Russia last August. Analysts say a six-fold devaluation of the Russian currency coupled with a sharp rise in brandy prices has been responsible for the drop.

Last December–Pernod Ricard postponed the Yerevan Brandy Company’s formal takeover for six months asking for more time for deliberations. The company put the final seal on the $30 million deal with the Armenian government on May 25 after announcing that "these uncertainties no longer exist."

Roucou said parallel to efforts to regain ground in the former Soviet Union the Yerevan Brandy Company will try to market its product in more than 20 other countries. But he added that the financial hardships mean purchases of Armenian grape will have to be cut by about 30 percent to 18,000 tons this year.

In the words of the Yerevan Brandy Company’s vice-president–Armenia’s former prime minister Hrant Bagratian–the abundance of faked brandy in the Armenian market has hit the company hard. In one recent raid alone–police confiscated 20,000 bottles of non-authentic brandy sold with Yerevan Brandy Company labels–he said. Bagratian also said the Yerevan Brandy Company management is currently negotiating with the government on the possibility of reducing excise duties on brandy.

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