March 20, 2017 / 10:28 AM / 5 months ago

Champagne producers blame Brexit for 2016 sales decline

Bottles of champagne are displayed December 21, 2016 at a Nicolas French wine specialist store in Paris, France. Picture taken December 21, 2016.Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - Sales of champagne fell last year as a weaker pound weighed on British demand in the wake of the Brexit referendum vote, France's main champagne industry body said on Monday.

Sales to Britain, still the biggest export market by volume, fell 8.7 percent to 31.2 million bottles, the CIVC industry association said. By value, British exports tumbled 14 percent to 440 million euros (381.16 million pounds).

Britain's June vote to leave the European Union caused sterling to fall against the euro and to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985, although it has since edged back from those lows.

Global champagne sales fell 2.1 percent by volume to 306 million bottles in 2016, while order value fell 0.6 percent to 4.71 billion euros. The decline also reflected continued economic weakness in France, where sales fell 2.5 percent to 157 million bottles, the CIVC said.

However, champagne shipments to the United States, the second-largest export market, rose 6.3 percent by volume and 4.9 percent by value.

Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Laurence Frost

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