The Heady Aroma of Success
Cognac grows in appreciation in the region, and Cognac Larsen drives business with new ideas and structure
Cognac is the most established European imported spirit in Asia and for many years, recognised as a premium luxury drink for the rich and successful. We spoke to Jonathan Chow – Group Chief Executive Officer, Asiaeuro Group of Companies – and Jérôme Durand – Director General of Cognac Larsen, about their presence at Vinexpo Hong Kong and what they hope to achieve.
Jérôme Durand: Asia is strategic for us and the house clearly has a role to play here. The first Larsen shipments date back to the 1950s and many Chinese consumers know the brand because of its most iconic porcelain Cognac decanter: the Viking Ship. From our archives, we estimate that we have shipped more the 100,000 Viking Ship decanters to Asia since 1952. This has given us a high level of awareness in the country. Our strategy today consists of presenting two new Cognacs – Larsen VSOP Reserve and Larsen XO Reserve – developed specifically for Asia. We have the ambition to become one of the most dynamic players after the big 3 ‒ Hennessy, Martell, Rémy Martin. Asiaeuro is a great partner that has skill and experience in brand-building and distribution. The first feedback we have had after CNY 2018 is very solid and qualitatively speaking, it showed that the Larsen style is particularly suited to and liked with Asian food. We are in the initial stages of our partnership, but we want to invest significantly to accompany the strong potential growth. We are very excited about future Larsen projects that are in the pipeline with Asiaeuro.
Please tell us more about Asiaeuro – what your mission is, and what your key goals are at Vinexpo HK, as well as your plans for development.
Jonathan Chow: The Board of Directors in Asiaeuro have appointed me as the Group CEO since 1st March 2018. Asiaeuro Wines & Spirits Sdn Bhd started off as a pure play wines distribution company in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1999. The company grew aggressively and the founders hired capable industry professionals who in turn brought in more brands and expanded the portfolio from wines to spirits to non-alcoholic beverages. The past five years have been extremely exciting and gratifying for our shareholders and employees as the company has done well and invested prudently behind our infrastructure and brand building capabilities. In China, we have our own warehouse and office, own brands, a brands heritage centre, a coffee roasting plant and sufficient space to expand further into local bottling. 2017 has been a turning point as our company has parted ways with Beam following their acquisition by Suntory Japan and we are now writing a new chapter in China with independent likeminded brand companies that believe in growing business sustainably in this new digital and globally connected environment.
Operating within such a dynamic situation, Asiaeuro’s mission remains close to our business values when we started in 1999. Asiaeuro is well known for offering our consumers a portfolio of good quality alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages at fair prices so that everyone can enjoy quality lifestyle brands. Our trading policy is transparent and we operate under our founder Her Soon Seng’s win-win-win vision and philosophy; meaning our consumers buy at fair prices, our business partners make fair margins and our company earns fair profits so that we can take good care of our people. Our key goal at Vinexpo HK is to of course share with the public our new brand portfolio from Larsen which includes our new Larsen XO Reserve, Larsen VSOP Reserve and a new Louis Chevalier French Brandy XO. Anyone can walk up to our stand and taste the product and if they are keen to work with us and we are not represented in that particular area, there is room for a win-win-win discussion.
What is your “star” product at this year’s show?
JD: LARSEN EXTRA OR. The house’s Cognac Extra has been renovated and will be shown at Vinexpo HK. Blended from our oldest and best eaux-devie, EXTRA OR is the purest and most majestic expression of our style. It is Larsen’s perfect expression of time, passion and culture.
Level 3 / Stand T-45
Photos: Jonathan Chow, Group Chief Executive Officer, Asiaeuro Group of Companies (left) and Jérôme Durand – Director General of Cognac Larsen (right)