One of the main players trading in sur lattes Champagne that supplies major UK supermarkets including Tesco, Waitrose and Morrisons has gone bust. After weeks of speculation that is was in financial difficulties, the Pressoirs de France group owned and run by Nicolas Dubois has gone into receivership having failed to find a new financial backer. In a statement to the French press on Wednesday, Dubois said the company was « without sufficient capital to fund its cash needs ».
Dubois, who started his brokering business in 1999, quickly become a large operator predominantly selling cheap champagne to hypermarkets and supermarkets inside and outside France. His group sold 6m bottles of champagne in 2012, he told French newspaper l’Union. He made it clear that the majority of this was bought on the sur lattes market from other producers in Champagne when he confirmed that he had purchased €160m worth of champagne in the sur lattes market in just four years. Working on an average sur lattes price of between €6.5-7 over this period that’s in excess of 22m bottles of champagne.
According to rumours circulating widely in Champagne, Dubois had recently pre-sold clients large volumes of champagne at just €8 a bottle, banking on the sur lattes price dropping in the current difficult economic climate to make these deals profitable. However, the sur lattes price has actually risen slightly to just over €7 and when you add in the cost of about €1.20 per bottle for disgorgment, it’s hard to see how this bit of business could possibly have been profitable, which may have triggered Pressoirs de France’s financial collapse.
It was Dubois who supplied the Laurence D brand promoted in Leclerc supermarkets last September at just €5.45 in a loyalty card deal. The Pressoirs de France group also supplies Tesco with its Francois Dubois label; Morrisons with its Louis Dubrince champagnes and Waitrose with Bertrand de Bessac all of which have been heavily promoted at under £15 in the UK in the run-up to Christmas.
The administrator appointed by the French court on 8 January is trying to save jobs at Pressoirs de France’s operation based in based in Faverolles & Coëmy 10kms to the west of Reims. According to reports in the French press the business has total liabilities of €49m including €30m of bank debt but its assets include 40 hectares of supply contracts bought with the Jeeper brand (also sold by Tesco on-line) by Dubois in November 2009, plus other supply contracts and the equivalent of €25m of unsold stock.