Remy celebrates drinkers' return to the top shelf with pounds 31m profit

THE discerning drinker appears to have had enough of a recession-induced switch to cheaper cognacs and champagnes and become reaquainted with Remy Cointreau's upmarket range, writes John Shepherd.

Growth in exports to China and Hong Kong also helped to push up sales of Remy Martin cognac, for a 24.5 per cent rise in net profits to Fr252m ( pounds 31m) in the year to 31 March.

Marc Dubreuil (left) and his brother Francois, joint managing directors, said Remy had consolidated its position as the leader in 'superior quality' cognac with more than one- third of the world market.

'We believe sales are going to grow again. The major economies are coming out of recession,' Marc Dubreuil said. Cognac turnover rose 9 per cent to Fr466m, liqueurs, wines and spirits climbed 16 per cent to Fr357m, and champagne, which was hit badly in 1992/93, contained its fall to just 9 per cent to Fr103m.

He added that trading conditions, however, had yet to recover enough for Remy to push through price increases. 'Prices are stable, but we are able to maintain margins by selling more superior quality cognac.'

(Photograph omitted)