Returning to Maison Collet

One of the greatest advantages of studying at ESSEC is being in France, the cradle of luxury, famous for producing some of the world’s most renowned wines and spirits such as Moët & Chandon and Dom Pérignon. Like the previous cohort, this year we were blessed with a visit to Maison Collet and COGEVI (Coopérative Générale des Vignerons) in Oger, north-eastern France, for another inspiring Savoir-Faire visit.

We were greeted by Sébastien Walasiak, Chef de Cave, who gave us a brief introduction of Maison Collet and its family of champagnes, Champagne Collet being its hero product now sold only to high-end restaurants and hotels. We were then given an in-depth tour around their production facilities where we learned about every stage of champagne-making, which alumna Emilia Wilson brilliantly explained in this blog post.

NOTE: The champagne-blending facility consists of 300 stainless steel vats and 100 wood barrels, with the largest vat having a 300,000 litre capacity, able to produce approximately 400,000 bottles!

We then spent the afternoon learning about the history of COGEVI, France’s oldest cooperative founded in 1921 by winegrowers determined to protect the heritage, independence, and expertise of the area. Today the co-op hosts approximately 900 members and the breath-taking hillsides, houses and wine cellars of this region are included in the UNESCO Heritage list for their cultural and historical significance.

Personally, the most valuable part of this visit was meeting and learning from Olivier Charriaud, Managing Director of Champagne Collet and ESSEC alumnus, who after his successful feat at refreshing Rémy Cointreau’s brand image did the very same for Champagne Collet. Mr. Charriaud spoke of his trials and tribulations in reviving and re-positioning the dying brand by establishing his three-pillars strategy: (1) credibility, (2) visibility, and (3) profitability. Credibility consisted of first and foremost having a product of exceptional quality, providing excellent service, and communicating and ensuring all stakeholders believed in the story of the brand - the dream.

Visibility was achieved through COGEVI and a creative strategy of champagne-food pairing that significantly helped elevate Champagne Collet’s image and create brand awareness (please see previous blog post for more details). Last but not least, profitability meant positioning the brand at a luxury level and targeting niche markets. This last strategy was arguably the most challenging to implement; only by staying focused and remaining patient could one reap its rewards.

We left Maison Collet utterly inspired and revitalised for the journey ahead, as many of us plan to become luxury brand managers in the future. Similar to all other savoir-faire visits, we’ve learned that when it comes to luxury, every detail counts!

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