Hong Kong a Strategic Hub for Larsen

Successful launch for new Cognac Larsen Products at Vinexpo Hong Kong Jérôme Durand, Director General, of Cognac Larsen reports a highly successful Vinexpo 2018 edition.
Larsen launched two new Cognacs at Vinexpo Hong Kong. Larsen VSOP Reserve and Larsen XO Reserve have been created especially for the Asian market and follow Larsen’s new long-term exclusive partnership with Asiaeuro, signed in December 2017.

Asiaeuro is now distributing the entire Larsen range in China and Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

“The feedback has been very good. We have made very good contacts”, says Durand, adding, “Vinexpo Hong Kong is the most important fair in Asia for Cognac Larsen. We had two objectives here. The first one was to continue to build our network, which is doing quite well, due to qualitative people all around the fair. Secondly, it was to activate and animate our clients and end-consumers, and for that it is also quite interesting to have the high quality of the population in this area.”

The Larsen MD says Hong Kong is a hub for all of Asia for his company. “We are meeting mainly our Chinese clients, which is the second biggest market in the world for Cognacs with more 4-million cases and really, really dynamic last year – +38% for the shipments from Cognac, so it’s clearly booming again, and it’s a strategic market for us. It’s essential for us to support our clients and their end-customers by being here.”

The Larsen VSOP Reserve, and Larsen XO Reserve are exclusive for Asia, both in blends and packaging. Larsen XO Reserve is a blend of eaux-de-vie from mainly the Fins Bois and Petite Champagne Crus. Robert Andrieux, Master Blender at Larsen, has used 40 different eaux de vies, the youngest 10 years-old and the oldest between 20 and 30 years-old. Long barrel-ageing gives the Cognac a deep, amber colour, while the palate is a complex layering of ripe fruit, prunes, nuts, toasted cocoa beans, liquorice and moka. The mouthfeel is soft and silky and the finish is long and aromatic.

“Asia is strategic for us and the house clearly has a role to play here,” continues Durand. “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.”

All in all, the fair has been excellent for the Cognac house, but as Durand says, “a good fair is organised before the fair. It’s a lot of work beforehand but then once at the show, we can finalise and officialise some good things, a little like the way the French President does it on international business trips, making announcements at the right time. That’s what we did with the long-term partnership we have concluded with Asiaeuro, which I am sure will bring a lot of good business in the coming years”.

Photo: Jérôme Durand, Director General, Cognac Larsen