By Dominique Vidalon
PARIS (Reuters) - Known for its prized Louis XIII cognac, Remy Cointreau is entering the luxury fragrance market with the launch of Maison Psyche, an upscale perfume house that will sell scents starting at 5,500 euros a bottle.
The French spirits group will draw on its experience in blending and ageing spirits, as well as marketing to high end clientele, as it seeks to tap into affluent consumers' thirst for exclusivity.
The new business could be “potentially strategic,” Remy Cointreau chief executive Eric Vallat told Reuters.
The executive did not provide financial details but said it would start out small, compared to the spirits group which has annual sales of around 1.3 billion euros.
"We have real ambition. If this project works, others will follow," said Vallat, noting he sees the label as "a natural extension" of Remy Cointreau's activities.
The move comes as the luxury industry doubles down on serving wealthier clients who can still afford to splash out on high end goods despite rising inflation.
The world's biggest luxury group LVMH has been investing in luxury hospitality serving higher end clients, opening five-star Cheval Blanc and Bulgari hotels in Paris, while recent expectation-beating trading updates from labels like Hermes, which sells $10,000 handbags, illustrate the resilience of labels at the higher end.
The market for niche, high-end fragrances has also been booming, with strong appetite in the United States in particular, prompting investments like Puig's purchase of Byredo.
Remy Cointreau's Maison Psyche was born from the collaboration of Baptiste Loiseau, Cellar Master of Remy Martin and Sophie Labbe, Principal Perfumer of Switzerland's fragrance group Firmenich.
Maison Psyche's first collection of five exclusive fragrances have spent time maturing in Cognac in western France in specially designed small oak barrels.
They will be sold in Baccarat crystal bottles, adorned in gold – some with diamonds, numbered and only available in very limited quantities.
Orders have already been coming in, Vallat said, noting the label would aim to serve wealthy clients that already buy the group's Louis XIII cognac, its blend of eaux de vie aged up to a hundred years and priced at over $3,000 a bottle on average.
Maison Psyche will sell its perfumes directly to consumers through appointments in special venues such as an exclusive Paris apartment, with a plan to expand worldwide within six months, Vallat said.
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon, additional reporting by Mimosa; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)