Les Caves Particulières

A new expression for luxury Cognac and Champagne

Inviting. Transparent. Experiential. These are just some of the words that describe Les Caves Particulières, the beautifully upgraded Champagne and Cognac concept opened by the partnership of Moët Hennessy and the Lagardère Travel Retail-Groupe ADP joint venture at Paris Charles de Gaulle.

With the relaunch of Les Caves Particulières at Paris Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2E, Moët Hennessy, Paris Aéroport (Groupe ADP) and Lagardère Travel Retail are helping to rewrite how the story of luxury spirits and Champagnes is told at airports. The Moodie Davitt Report paid a recent visit to see first-hand how this new and refined expression of LVMH’s Cognac and Champagne portfolio has come to life in a store that neatly blends modernity and tradition. It is commercially successful too, with average spends that outstrip 2019 levels, even without many Asian or US visitors. The store, in the heart of Hall K, houses six leading brands from the LVMH company: Hennessy Cognac alongside Dom Pérignon, Krug, Moët & Chandon, Ruinart and Veuve Clicquot Champagnes – each represented in individually designed and branded zones, enhanced with digital effects, marrying tradition and modernity. The range includes many of the most prestigious and rare expressions from each brand, travel retail exclusives – a new Paris-themed Hennessy XO Cognac among them – and stations for personalisation and gifting. A striking new feature is a central tasting area, where travellers can (once regulations permit) sample products paired with cheeses or other delicacies from the newly opened Les Halles gourmet food hall, which sits adjacent. At the inauguration, Moët Hennessy CEO Philippe Schaus said: “Les Caves Particulières has been a big success story since it first opened. Today we open again with a very different context for travel, although we are very happy to see travellers return, and we await the arrival of more American and Asian visitors. What we have learned from the past few months is that there is a very high demand from people to travel and to shop for luxury products. In that respect we have probably chosen the best moment to open this beautiful store. “We have been running at sales levels that are double-digits higher than pre-COVID-19, and selling well on rare and fine items, including an exceptional bottle of Hennessy for €25,000 in the past few days. So all of that bodes well for when traffic returns to more normal levels. “Why are we doing this? The whole idea is that we, along with Paris Aéroport and Lagardère Travel Retail, provide visitors to France with a continuation of their experience up to the moment when they take their plane. And then in that final hour we give them a great experience where they can taste Champagne, French cheeses, find their own favourite Hennessy, and they can take a piece of France with them.” The new-look store features three entrances, one to the main duty free wines & spirits store, another that leads to Les Halles gourmet outlet, and a wide frontage facing the boarding gates zone.

“Inviting, transparent, experiential” – Les Caves Particulières takes wines & spirits to a new level at Hall K, one that mirrors the upscale treatment of beauty or luxury. Photos: Moët Hennessy

Inside, the visibility of each brand has been elevated compared to the previous store, with a brighter overall effect. This is influenced by the white walls around the Champagne features, designed to evoke the chalk quarries of the Champagne region, with lines running down the walls that suggest the pattern of vines weaving through a vineyard. The brand identity and DNA of each Champagne brand is called out in the colour and materials used in each installation, and complemented by digital story-telling embedded in the branded walls. At the central tasting table, four place settings are available for food pairing, with selected vintages paired with cheeses from the Mons range, which is prominently displayed in gourmet store Les Halles opposite. Also embedded in the central table are presentations of rare cuvées, displayed in special drawers and presented to connoisseurs. Here too in the store’s heart is another eye-catching feature: a Personalisation Workshop, where shoppers can have their purchases stamped as a gift. The Hennessy environment stands out for its display of fine and rare classic Cognacs, all framed against a floor-to-ceiling shelf display of wooden boxes, a particular highlight of the store. These pay homage to the shipping crates that Hennessy was historically packed into before being exported around the world. Hennessy destinations worldwide are also noted on the boxes, leaning on names that were referred to in the brand’s archives – an attention to detail that stretches, in one case, to a deliberate misspelling of Cape Town (Cap Town). Also framed here are red, white and blue gift assets, which can be used to add a differentiated, Parisian touch to purchases. Of the new-look store, designer Hubert de Malherbe (Malherbe Paris) said he reimagined the space with a view to calling upon all five senses. He told The Moodie Davitt Report: “The idea here is to tell a story. We use wooden boxes such as used to be put in the river close to Hennessy and sailed around the world. We used similar wood to reflect this heritage, and this also makes for an efficient segmentation with the different brands of Champagne elsewhere in the store. “Compared to before this store is more inviting, transparent, experiential, with more generous circulation and visibility for the brands.” Groupe ADP Chief Customer Officer Mathieu Daubert hailed Les Caves Particulières as a “wonderful jewel” within the group’s flagship terminal. He said: “This is the terminal [at CDG] that has the highest customer satisfaction and the best commercial results. Even today it is the best-performing terminal in the world, with €60 in average sales per passenger.

A Moët Hennessy moment: Partners salute the opening of the renewed boutique. Left to right: SDA CEO Guy Bodescot; Groupe ADP Chief Customer Officer Mathieu Daubert; Moët Hennessy Managing Director Travel Retail EMEA & Americas Donatienne de Fontaines-Guillaume; Moët Hennessy Executive Vice President Global Distribution Jean-Marc Lacave; Moët Hennessy CEO Philippe Schaus; Lagardère Travel Retail Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Dag Rasmussen; Moët Hennessy President Travel Retail, LAC, AFME, Private Sales Laurent Boidevezi; and Malherbe Paris CEO Hubert de Malherbe.

Of the key goals for the terminal and stores such as this one, Daubert said: “If I sum it up, we are trying to create a kind of ‘Champagne terminal’. How do I mean that? When you think of Champagne, you think of joy, of celebration, of fun. You are also thinking of French flavour, of heritage, of craft. These are the values we want to bring to this environment. “Our idea is to create a series of boutique terminals here in Paris, just like you would do with a boutique hotel, with a sense of joy. And that is based on three ideas. The first is that it has human scale. Paris CDG is a very big airport but at the same time has quite small terminals. Here you can walk from security to the farthest boarding gate in six minutes. If you have 30 minutes to your boarding gate you have a lot of stress, and less positive emotion about the experience. “The second idea is French flavour, Sense of Place. This is very important and allows us to communicate the very best of Paris in perfume & cosmetics, luxury fashion, gastronomy and of course fine wines, Champagnes and spirits. This is the only place in Paris where you will find all of the major French Maisons across all of these categories under one roof. “The other key element that is important for us is excellence of service. The real stars here are the exceptional ambassadors that serve the travellers who pass through. “We want to build a sense of unicity, of uniqueness, and that is what SDA, Lagardère Travel Retail and Moët Hennessy have created.” Reflecting further on the importance of T2E and Hall K in particular, he added: “In this terminal we test our latest innovations, brands and concepts. Sometimes it’s emotional, sometimes it has to be practical. For example last year we opened the first airside PCR test centre at an airport for Chinese passengers, which allowed us to maintain some connectivity to this market. And with six flights per week we are one of the few airports with that connectivity still. Guy Bodescot, CEO of the SDA joint venture, explained that the thinking for the concept began in 2021 when ADP opened a mega-extension in T2. “At the time we displayed beauty and luxury prominently but Donatienne came to me and said ‘Guy, you cannot reposition the retail at Paris CDG and leave Cognac and Champagne as it was before. It must be prominent too.’ So that was the starting point, and we thank the Moët Hennessy team who took this forward from the start, as well as our own SDA and Lagardère Travel Retail teams.”

Moët Hennessy Managing Director Travel Retail EMEA & Americas Donatienne de Fontaines-Guillaume said memorably: “When we began, our portfolio of brands was to me like a diamond necklace. Each Maison is like a diamond alone, and put together they sparkle like this necklace. But I thought to myself, we deserve a fantastic jewellery case for these diamonds. And because it is from French terroir, it was obvious to me that it should be in Paris.” “Here we have taken this concept – the only one in the world – to another level, a place where we share emotions, where we share consumer experience, pairing Champagne with cheese as something that you can replicate at home. We want to share this passion for the terroir, for our vineyards and the French art-de-vie.” While the concept was a commercial success previously, Bodescot noted that it relied heavily on a small number of high-spending nationalities, including the Chinese. “At the start we had issues explaining the concept to French passengers, for two reasons. One, they asked why we put Cognac and Champagne together? And the second question they asked was why we didn’t put all Champagne or all Cognac together under one roof? So we had to find a way to express more than just the brands sitting in a row inside a lovely shop. “So we rethought the idea and this is the result. It is more of an experience than ever, with tasting, with engagement, with new elements. And commercially it’s a success. We are tracking at double-digit growth over 2019 even though traffic is not back to that level.” Beyond that the retailer has increased the stop ratio, or how well it converts passengers into customers. In this store that ratio here has increased by +53% against already high figures in 2019, said Bodescot. He added: “Last but not least, 60% of those customers are French. You might say that there are mostly French travelling so that figure isn’t a surprise, but in fact we now have more French people visiting the store than we did even in 2019. So if they understand it, and they feel it is somewhere special, then we are going in a good direction, and our American and Chinese friends will add incremental sales once they return.

“This concept is not just a beautiful shop carrying wonderful products. What we needed to bring here was a genuine experience. When you can talk to an expert, you are being taken around the worlds of each of these wonderful brands. The overall experience is being provided by the union of each of the six Maisons, their outstanding staff and our partners.” He also singled out the management and team at Ruinart for their support in co-creating the updated concept – Ruinart sales are now growing at triple-digits compared to 2019. Bodescot said that SDA’s ambition was to “express the excellence of spirits and Champagnes and gastronomy at the same level as we do with beauty and fashion & luxury. Thanks to this experience, alongside the new environment Les Halles dedicated to gastronomy, we have done that. We want customers to go from one shop to the other in a seamless manner, trying the Champagne, trying the fabulous cheeses next door, and then deciding what they want to buy, without having to pay, leave the store and try something else before buying. That is true hospitality and that is our ambition.” Lagardère Travel Retail Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Dag Rasmussen sounded a wider, positive note about the partnership and impact of the store. He said: “This collaboration reaches a new level thanks to all of the exclusives we have. Cognac exclusives, unique customisation of products, and Sense of Place which is what we need – that idea of ‘Paris and nowhere else’. “We can all agree that the result is just superb and we can be proud of this collaboration, one that mixes tasting, the Art of the Gift and the old and new. I really like the old wood from the barrels, alongside the many digital screens, which speaks to the consumer in a different way but in a modern way. “What I also like is that this project says a lot about travel retail and its resilience even during the pandemic, which we hope is soon behind us. I’m convinced that with exceptional execution, great and well trained staff, and the optimal use of digital, travel retail is the ultimate physical experience, and has a great future. “To summarise, [this is about] Sense of Place, experience, innovation, phy-gital: here we have all of the ingredients for success in travel retail.”

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The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 301 | 05 October 2021

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 15 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd). © All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Publisher. To find out more visit www.moodiedavittreport.com and to subscribe, please e-mail sinead@moodiedavittreport.com

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